Sunday, May 13, 2018

Are lawyers who sell used photocopy machines at risk for violating client confidences?

Most digital photocopiers made since 2002 have an internal hard drive that stores an image of every document those machines scanned or copied which means, as CBS Evening News recently reported, that selling them, for lawyers in particular, is akin to leaving confidential client files on the curb for passersby to rifle through. Beyond that, query whether transferring a hard drive that's packed full of client or third party intellectual property also runs afoul of copyright law for, in effect, re-publishing that protected material. Both are issues worth more than a passing mention in law school professional responsibility courses. Here's an excerpt from the CBS story:

Digital Photocopiers Loaded With Secrets


At a warehouse in New Jersey, 6,000 used copy machines sit ready to be sold. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports almost every one of them holds a secret.


Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive - like the one on your personal computer - storing an image of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine.


In the process, it's turned an office staple into a digital time-bomb packed with highly-personal or sensitive data.


If you're in the identity theft business it seems this would be a pot of gold.


"The type of information we see on these machines with the social security numbers, birth certificates, bank records, income tax forms," John Juntunen said, "that information would be very valuable."


Juntunen's Sacramento-based company Digital Copier Security developed software called "INFOSWEEP" that can scrub all the data on hard drives. He's been trying to warn people about the potential risk - with no luck.


"Nobody wants to step up and say, 'we see the problem, and we need to solve it,'" Juntunen said.


This past February, CBS News went with Juntunen to a warehouse in New Jersey, one of 25 across the country, to see how hard it would be to buy a used copier loaded with documents. It turns out ... it's pretty easy.

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Continue reading here.

Hat tip to Russ Kick @AltGov2.


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