Copy machines: a threat to your privacy?

A relative send me an e-mail forward today, and while I don’t generally read or respond to forwards, this one was quite disturbing.

The CBS Evening News recently reported on the dangers posed by digital photo copy machines. Essentially, every new copy machine made since 2002 has a built-in hard drive that keeps a copy of every document that is copied, scanned, or faxed by that machine.

Here is the story: (You can see the same story on CBS’s own site.)


Watch CBS News Videos Online

I think back on the copies I’ve made in the last year, which include:

  • Copies of the listing form for our condo
  • Copies of each offer we made on houses (there were 3)
  • Copies of all the documents related to the purchase of our new house, including detailed financial statements and bank statements
  • Copies of my tax returns including W2 and other documentation with private information

…And that is what I can think of off the top of my head.

I made some of those copies or scanned the documents at places like Kinkos, using my work copier/scanner and copies were done at my mortgage company, my title company, as well as the buyer and seller’s mortgage and title companies.

I had no idea that copiers were storing that kind of information. Did you?

However, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about it. I can’t control how the hospital copies my medical charts. I can’t control how the mortgage or title companies make copies of documents.

We live in a world where HIPPA and other privacy laws require paper copies of these documents to be securely disposed of, yet what about the digital versions of those same documents? How are we to protect our private information?

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One Response to Copy machines: a threat to your privacy?

  1. Canon Brother May 21, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    Slightly off the subject maybe, but a plea for people to think about the ethics of buying things like compatible toners and printer ink. Please try and consider, for example, the parts the product is manufactured with, the conditions of the factories where they’re made and the green credentials of retailers. And try to recycle rather than throwing away. Thanks!!!!

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