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(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty and Herb Conaway, M.D., sponsored to combat identity theft by requiring the hard drives of all digital copy machines to be wiped clean to protect sensitive, personal information was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
The information is stored on each machine, in some cases in perpetuity, unbeknownst to millions of consumers.
The bill (A-1238) was advanced by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.
“Most digital copy machines use internal hard drives, which store every document that has been scanned, printed, faxed or emailed by the machines, many times numbering in the tens of thousands by the time a copier is resold or returned at the end of a lease agreement,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden), who chairs the committee. “According to news reports, most businesses do not erase the hard drive on a copier before getting rid of it, putting the highly sensitive information of millions of consumers at serious risk of theft.”
“Besides the serious threat of identity theft, consumers are also vulnerable to repercussions posed by sensitive medical records or police documents,” said Conaway (D-Burlington) “There’s a simple way to eliminate these risks and we need to make sure it’s instituted.”
According to a 2008 survey commissioned by electronics manufacturer Sharp, 60 percent of consumers are not aware that copiers store images on a hard drive.
The bill requires that a person destroy, or arrange for the destruction of, all records stored on a digital copy machine, which is no longer to be retained by that person, by erasing or otherwise modifying those records to make the records unreadable, undecipherable or nonreconstructable through generally available means.
A person that willfully or knowingly violates the provisions of the bill is liable to a penalty of not more than $10,000 for the first offense and not more than $20,000 for the second and each subsequent offense.
The provisions of this bill shall be enforced by the Attorney General.
A person damaged in business or property as a result of a violation of this bill may sue the actor in the Superior Court and may recover compensatory and punitive damages and the cost of the suit including a reasonable attorney’s fee, costs of investigation and litigation.
The bill requires manufacturers of digital copy machines to include instructions with each copier explaining how to destroy or arrange for the destruction of the records stored on that machine.