Shredding Gone Wrong Imparts An Important Lesson

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 7:10 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

In the past, we’ve used our blog to feature those businesses that fail to shred confidential materials to show our readers the legal consequences that this behaviour creates. Both the damage to their reputation and their bottom line are valuable lessons to anyone thinking about skipping our shredding services. Today, we’re taking a look at the other side. Sometimes individuals, companies, and governments shred when they shouldn’t in attempt to hide evidence of wrongdoing. We here at Absolute Destruction can’t condone this behaviour, but these illegal acts remind us of the importance of our work.

Though it’s been sixteen years, the Enron scandal is still fresh in our minds. Recall Arthur Andersen, one of the “Big Five” accounting firms in the US. The American holding company shredded thousands of important documents and emails in an attempt to hide their involvement in Enron’s financial decline and subsequent cover up. As Enron’s auditor, Arthur Andersen was found guilty of obstruction of justice during the trails by destroying these files illegally.

Sixteen years later, London’s Metropolitan Police are now under similar scrutiny over the way they handled an official enquiry into undercover policing. In 2014, then Home Secretary Theresa May (and current Prime Minister) requested an Undercover Policing Enquiry to inspect the Met’s practices, and within two months of her order the Met began shredding a large amount of files, documents, and other communications.

At this point in time there is no clear evidence that this shredding was part of a greater cover up, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission has begun looking into these allegations. Should the Met be found guilty, they will be facing similar legal consequences as Arthur Andersen.

Whether or not these files were shredded for the wrong reasons, the fact still remains: these cases cast a shadow of suspicion on legitimate shredding practices. Shredding, even if it’s necessary, can seem nefarious to an outsider, proving an individual or business has something to hide. It doesn’t help that popular television shows like Better Call Saul and Mr. Robot highlight the criminal ways business and individuals destroy information.

In reality, companies are required by law to take the appropriate steps necessary to protect the personal information of their customers. Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) make shredding compulsory for any business that wishes to dispose of clients’ contact or financial information. Any organization that doesn’t follow shredding protocol can face significant fines, in addition to damage to their reputation and bottom line when their customers find out.

Shredding incorrectly is just as bad as not shredding at all, but shredding for the wrong reasons can pose a lesson for those that follow the letter of the law. When organizations are found to be shredding documents in order to conceal illegal events, it highlights the importance of safe, secure, and lawful shredding services.

As a NAID-certified shredding service, we conform to international operating standards to ensure physical documents and electronic hardware are destroyed in an official capacity. By hiring our regular commercial services, your business can prove to the public your disposal methods are above board.

If you’re ready to prove to your customers that you’re doing everything you can to protect their personal information, give us a call. Our guaranteed method of disposal is an easy and affordable way to keep your business safe.

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