The Law Won’t Help You If You Toss Important Documents Into The Trash

Sunday, January 25, 2015 12:34 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction

Neither businesses nor employees benefit when confidential information is stolen. In fact, the only people who benefit are the thieves themselves: the dumpster divers, hackers, and trespassers. Now, you might believe that if your company or organization is the victim of information theft, there are legal systems in place to punish the violators and restore your good name. This is true in many instances — when, for example, your records are pilfered through a break and enter or overt computer infiltration. However, if your inaction, recklessness, or failure to take proper precautions results in personal identifying information (or PII) falling into the wrong hands, you don’t have much recourse to legal assistance — and in some instances, your employees and clients may bring civil action against you.

In August, 2014, the well-known environmental and animal advocacy group Greenpeace claimed that The Dow Chemical Corporation and Sasol North America hired shifty individuals to sift through their (Greenpeace’s) trash in D.C. in order to find personal and private information. Greenpeace first tried to sue Dow and Sasol under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, but were dismissed. They later accused the companies of trespassing and invasion of privacy, but this too was thrown out. Greenpeace’s subsequent appeals were also dismissed because, according to the court, Greenpeace did not have a “possessory interest” in the common-use trash bins in their building, and because it “purposefully threw away or abandoned” PII without engaging in proper disposal methods.

While this certainly smarts for Greenpeace — and any other company that finds itself on the wrong end of such espionage — it could be worse if it occurred in the state of Delaware. Come 2015, Delawarean companies that don’t thoroughly destroy their employees’ or clients’ PII can be held liable if said PII falls into wrong hands and brings about damages, financial or otherwise. The new law sets a higher bar for corporate accountability and enjoins those organizations that store information to eliminate it in responsible ways. That’s big news for companies that don’t take the time to consider the trash!

Both the Greenpeace and Delaware scenarios highlight and re-emphasize the serious necessity of adequate document destruction for corporate entities. By trusting to our efficient, reliable, and thorough on-site paper shredding service, companies can inform their fiduciary charges that all sensitive or confidential materials are dealt with ethically. If you are a business owner, this is an investment in your organization’s livelihood as well as your public reputation — it will protect against sleazy and nefarious attacks (like the tactics used by The Dow Chemical Corporation, for example), and it will ensure that customers trust their personal details with you long into the future.

For too many companies, investments in professional document destruction only occur after serious financial or image-related losses. The Delaware law is the potential future of legal policy with regard to information disposal, so don’t wait around for costly and devastating litigation. The wisest and most ethical course of action is to pick up the phone, contact our customer service representatives, and make arrangements for your PII before a breach of trust or PR nightmare befalls you.

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