There have been several news articles about the privacy problems that can occur because of unsecured copy machines that can store private data. Now, Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has sent a letter (pdf) to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz urging the agency to investigate the storage of personal data on copy machines. Markey wrote:
I am concerned that these hard drives represent a treasure trove for thieves, leaving unwitting consumers vulnerable to identity theft as their Social Security numbers, birth certificates, medical records ,bank records and other personal information are exposed to individuals who could easily extract the data from the digital copiers’ hard drive and use it for criminal purposes.
I am interested in any actions the Commission has taken to investigate this issue. I also encourage the Commission to pursue measures to provide consumers with additional information about the privacy risks associated with the use of digital copiers for copying sensitive information adn the steps consumers can take to protect themselves against these risks.
In a press release announcing his request, Markey said, “Companies and government agencies also should be responsible stewards of personal information, ensuring that any personal information is wiped clean before the copier moves on to the next user.”
Markey is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-Chairman of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus.