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Computer Recycling News: 2000-2005

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Patients sue doctor over old computer

Kansas City Star

July 14, 2005 - Legal fallout continues to rain down on a Leawood plastic surgeon who placed a computer with private patient records in his trash. Two patients of Daniel Bortnick filed a class-action lawsuit against the physician and his practice, Monarch Plastic Surgery. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and breach of fiduciary duty.  » Click here to view article

Child protective services agency data found on Nigerian hard drives

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

October 26, 2005 - Members of an environmental group who bought computer hardware at a Nigerian market say they found confidential data from Wisconsin's child protective services agency on the hard drive. State officials are trying to figure out how and why the sensitive information - including children's full names and locations - would remain on hard drives that had been reformatted to eliminate the information before being sent for recycling or disposal. » Click here to view article

You Can Go To Jail For Improper PC Disposal


September 22, 2005 - Few corporate executives know that they can be fined or jailed for improper disposal of computers, according to a recent survey by Hewlett-Packard Financial Services. More than 75% of respondents underestimate the cost of computer disposal. More than 65% of executives with purchasing authority are unaware of the fines they can face for ignoring environmental regulations. Futhermore, recent legislation holds top executives and IT managers accountable for violating customer protection and privacy rules. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act allows fines up to $250,000 and 10 years in prison for each violation of patient health information privacy rules. The Gramm-Leach-Billey Act imposes penalties of up to $100,000 per violation for financial institutions that fail to protect customer information. » Click here to view article

Data Disposal: A Crushing Problem?

Desktop Pipeline

July 14, 2005 - Consumer interest in safely ditching data has been fueled by a steady stream of reports of personal records found on used equipment. The latest survey to spook PC users came in May when O&O Software, a German maker of disk-erase and -recovery software, bought 100 hard disks on eBay and found them chock full of corporate and institutional data such as charge card numbers, pin numbers, worker evaluations, and court documents.   » Click here to view article

Discarded Hard Drives Still Contain Data

CIO Today

June 1, 2005 - A study commissioned by the German firm O&O Software, a developer of hard-drive utilities, found that of 200 hard drives purchased through eBay , 71 percent had data that could be reconstructed. The company did a similar study in 2004 and found that 88 of 100 disks bought through the auction site contained easily recovered data. » Click here for story

Gartner Says PC Disposal Costs Must Be Considered in Total Cost of Ownership

Gartner Press Release

September 29, 2003 - When disposing of obsolete and surplus IT equipment, most enterprises are unaware that the various costs associated with the disposal usually exceed the proceeds from the sale, according to a new report by Gartner, Inc.  For some enterprises, however, the cost is much higher, because of failing to properly dispose of PCs or to eliminate confidential data residing on the drives. Many enterprises have paid a high price in costs, regulatory fines, bad publicity and even litigation when their PCs turned up in landfills or third-world countries, or when confidential data was recovered from hard drives that had not been properly sanitized. » Click here for story

Used hard drives are not blank

Associated Press

January 16, 2003 - So, you think you have cleaned all your personal files from that old computer hard drive you are selling? A pair of MIT graduate students suggests you think again. Over two years, Simson Garfinkel and Abhi Shelat assembled a collection of 158 used hard drives, shelling out between $5 and $30 for each at secondhand computer stores and on eBay. Of the 129 drives that functioned, 69 still had recoverable files on them and 49 contained "significant personal information" -- medical correspondence, love letters, pornography and 5,000 credit card numbers. One even had a year's worth of transactions with account numbers from an ATM in Illinois. » Click here for story

VA toughens security after computer disposal blunders

Federal Computer Week

August 26, 2002 - The Department of Veterans Affairs is tightening its policy on the disposal of old computers following disclosures that 139 computers containing sensitive personal information about veterans, including their medical records, were given away. The computers' hard drives contained a wealth of personal data, including information about a veteran with AIDS and others with mental health problems. Some computers also contained the numbers of 44 government credit cards. » Click here for story

PC recycling businesses handle glut of toxic computers

Bay Journal

June 1, 2000 - More than 315 million computers are expected to become obsolete by the year 2004, containing an estimated 1.2 billion pounds of lead, 2 million pounds of cadmium, 400,000 pounds of mercury and 1.2 million pounds of hexavalent chromium. The problem is creating a boom for PC recycling businesses that resell or dispose of these systems. Governments officials are also beginning to react. The Environmental Protection Agency conducts an Electronic Product Recovery and Recycling Roundtable through which business, government and other officials can trade ideas on how to handle the glut of obsolete gear. » Click here for story

IT departments find it difficult to dispose of obsolete computers


April, 10, 2000 - Only 39% of 102 IT managers surveyed by Computerworld said they have a consistent, companywide policy for dealing with retired hardware. More than 20 million PCs became obsolete in 1998 -- but just 14% of those were recycled or donated. Without a plan in place, PC disposal is a scramble for IT departments. For example, when one company was trying to shed its retired PCs, the machines sat for six months in building space that the company normally rents out for $17.50 per sq. ft. Another company’s staff recently spent several weeks erasing hard drives and finding nonprofits to take 250 computers that were no longer useable after their Y2k remediation. Meanwhile, some computer recyclers – which buy used PCs to resell or dismantle for scrap -- are so flush that they're turning away recycling business. » Click here for story

Computer retirement costs add up quickly

Entrepreneurial Edge Direct

April 25, 2000 - Decommissioning a computer isn’t cheap. Hard drives must be scrubbed of proprietary data, internal components may have to be removed, and the systems must then be readied for shipment or storage. For a large company the labor and other costs can total well over $300 per machine. Legislators are beginning to apply pressure. On April 1, Massachusetts began to require that computer monitors be recycled. The European Commission wants all PC manufacturers to take back used equipment, handle the recycling and phase out all toxic ingredients by 2004.


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