What is secure destruction?

The Public Records Office of Victoria definition of destruction: “destruction renders records and information unreadable and irretrievable.”

Why do secure destruction?

On 26 March 2017, the Age newspaper reported that “The Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner; Timothy Pilgrim is investigating how the records of 31 patients were removed from the John Fawkner Private Hospital” last month and found on a local street. The incident was reported to Victoria’s Health Complaints Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner, both of whom investigate privacy breaches. In these times of heightened privacy, it is vital that schools take the security of their business and student records seriously and ensure that at all times their information is protected and destroyed in an environmentally friendly and secure manner.

 Who can do secure destruction?

It is very important to ensure that the destruction of these documents is managed by an Australian company and not sent offshore for shredding overseas. Offshore the chain of custody is more difficult to maintain and once material has left Australia the controls around the destruction process might not be as tightly regulated.

Australian Privacy Law states that reasonable steps must be taken “to destroy or de-identify personal information that is no longer required.’

How does the secure destruction occur?

Paper documents should be collected from the school in locked destruction bins and transferred to a secure destruction facility in branded and GPS-tracked vans. The paper should then be cross shredded and pulped as modern technology allows for reconstruction of shredded paper. In the Cold War, the East Germans recreated reams of documents from shredded materials and technology for document r-creation has advanced significantly since then.

The pulping of shredded paper reduces documents to their base fibres which can then tbe recycled, providing an environmentally friendly solution and a large source of recycled paper and cardboard.

The Australian Privacy laws don’t just relate to paper based documentation but to other sources of information storage. Various types of media such as hard drives, DVD’s, X-rays and credit cards must also be destroyed in a secure and confidential manner. These items should also be kept on Australian shores with the destruction process being quite similar. It is important to ensure that the process while being totally confidential and secure also maintains elements of environmental sustainability

Hard drives and other types of media including credit cards are degaussed, shredded and the materials disposed of in an environmentally sensitive manner. E – waste contains some very toxic substances which can ultimately end up in the biosphere and our food chain when they are not recycled properly.

Inappropriate methods of destruction

Other methods of destruction are neither secure nor confidential and do not meet accepted environmental standards. These methods of destruction do not meet Australian Privacy Standards as the information can be either retrieved, recreated and is neither secure nor confidential, opening the school to the possibility of legal action.

Deletion:        Deleting electronic records from mediums such as hard drives and USB                     devices does not permanently erase information which can allow for potential future restoration.

Dumping:       Security can easily be compromised.

Burying:          Security cannot be assured.

Burning:          Unnecessary environmental pollution.

Proof of Destruction

In order to ensure that your school has taken the appropriate steps to safely and securely destroy your information a certificate of destruction should be sought, proving that the secure destruction facility has met all the required steps in order to ensure your confidential information is irretrievable.

Formfile can facilitate the secure and total destruction of your obsolete documents and digital media in full compliance with regulatory and legal requirements and with sensitivity to your privacy concerns. Formfile is compliant to ISO9001:2015 as audited by SAI Global.

Call 1800FORMFILE to ask us about your destruction needs today.

 Watch our Video to find out more about document destruction.

About the Author

PhD in European Languages and Cultures (specialising in Literary Translation) Department of International Studies Macquarie University