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    EU Observer: Data left on old computers a boon for scam artists, warns EU data supervisor

    The EU Observer reports on the privacy risks that come from data unwittingly left on old computers or other electronic devices:

    On Thursday, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Peter Hustinx, warned that the European Commission’s current proposal to recast an old directive on e-waste – the WEEE directive, for ‘waste electrical and electronic equipment’ – was focussing only on the environmental considerations of junking old equipment, and had entirely forgotten about the threat to data left on laptops and PCs by their original owners. […]

    The supervisor went on to say that the amount of data storeable on such devices has accelerated rapidly in recent years, and so the threat of loss of such data at the point of recycling or re-using had also accelerated. […]

    The supervisor added that it was “urgent” that both stakeholders and the EU legislative process take into account this back-end risk to data privacy. […]

    Specifically, Mr Hustinx recommends two proposals for EU legislators.

    He wants to see the new legislation integrate privacy and data protection into the design of electrical and electronic equipment “by default”, in order to allow users to delete − using simple, free of charge means – personal data that may be present on devices when they want to get rid of them.

    He also hopes legislators will include language prohibiting the marketing of used devices which have not previously undergone appropriate security measures in order to erase any personal data they may contain.

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