Banking on the big banks

By Correy Stephenson

The Daily Record Newswire

The New Jersey Assembly recently approved legislation that would require that data held on digital copy machines be destroyed before the machines are disposed of or resold, moving the bill to the Senate for consideration.

Bill A-2975 is intended to combat identity theft and protect the privacy of consumers whose personal information could be stored on the hard drives of copy machines.

"Consider all of the highly sensitive information stored on copiers used by both the public and private sector - medical records from a doctor's office, tax information and Social Security numbers from an accountant's office, sensitive police records, you name it," Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.

"In today's global economy, a copier used in a doctor's office in Trenton could be re-sold to someone in South America, sending thousands of sensitive documents into the realm of the unknown and opening up a Pandora's box of potential fraud cases. We need this legislation and we need it now."

As drafted, the legislation requires that a person destroy, or arrange for the destruction of, all records stored on a digital copy machine which is no longer retained by that person. Destruction can be completed by erasing or otherwise modifying the records to make them unreadable, undecipherable or nonreconstructable through generally available means.

A knowing or willful violation of the bill could result in $10,000 penalty for the first offense and up to $20,000 for the second and each subsequent violation, to be enforced by the state attorney general.

The legislation also allows for a private right of action if an individual is "damaged in business or property" as a result of the bill's violation, with compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and costs available.

After passing the state Assembly by a vote of 50-28-1, the bill now moves to the Senate Commerce Committee.

Published: Thu, Dec 9, 2010

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