Electronics Exportation & Data Security Risks

Electronics Exportation & Data Security Risks
April 1, 2021 Sarah Laman

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 25 percent of the United States’ electronic waste is exported and dumped, rather than being properly recycled. As a result, impoverished regions across Asia and Africa are faced with detrimental environmental and public health consequences. While some devices may be salvageable for reuse, many are burned or buried in large e-waste dumps.

This poses a serious data security risk to both individuals and organizations using recyclers and refurbishers that are not adhering to a strict zero-export policy for electronic waste. In 1989, the United Nations Basel Convention restricted the international trade of hazardous waste to prevent pollution dumping on the world’s poorest residents. Despite this effort, many U.S. recyclers still ship some portion of their material overseas, or they are unaware that their downstream channels are doing so. In fact, recently a large investment banking firm found themselves in a precarious situation when they learned that customer data was compromised on decommissioned hardware that was improperly handled.

This is why in 2015 Comprenew chose to become certified to the e-Stewards standard, in addition to the R2 standard which was earned in 2014. This certification requires that we follow a strict chain-of-custody for all electronic material sent to downstream vendors. Data-bearing devices are wiped or shredded in a secure area upon arrival at Comprenew, and we always prioritize extending the lifecycle of a device and promote reuse whenever possible. This reduces waste and manufacturing costs, requires less energy, and provides job opportunities to people in our community.

Comprenew is the only nonprofit in the world certified to both the e-Stewards and R2 standard, making us an industry leader in proper electronics lifecycle management, data security, and environmental health and safety. For more information, please visit comprenew.org.

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