Yesterday I received an email from my sister. She had come across this video from CBS News:
(if you don’t want to watch the video you can read the accompanying story here)
The point of the story is simple: almost every copy machine in service today has a hard drive in it, and every copy that gets made gets saved to that hard drive. This means that when you take personal documents to a copy center to reproduce them you’re leaving a copy behind, and it also means (for example) that when your personal information is used in completely normal and legal ways at insurance companies they are leaving copies behind unless they take steps to do something about it.
And they aren’t always doing that.
To be fair, the people who use these machines don’t know what’s happening, but it wouldn’t matter if they did know, since they have no way to control the machines’ actions. So the issue lies with the owners of the machines knowing enough about the machines. Good luck with that one.
Is the solution legislation aimed at users? In the case of insurance companies and others who can handle the burden and have existing privacy obligations, probably so, and if this piece creates enough outrage to create some action on that point, then great. But relative to self-service machines in who-knows-where . . . I’m afraid the only realistic choices are for those places to stop providing their services or people to stop using them. And both are bad choices.
What follows could sound like a pitch for what we do at PC-VIP and The Computer Answer Guy, and I suppose it is that if you’re running a business and reading this makes you realize that you can use help with your computers. But I have two points to make that will matter to anyone:
First, CBS News ran a story that could cause out-and-out hysteria, and failed to temper it in any way. This is irresponsible. And before you jump to their defense consider: there wasn’t news being reported; the story was about an ongoing problem. Be it for news, business, or anything else, it’s vitally important to remember that pointing out a problem without offering a solution is worse than keeping your mouth shut. It actually creates an extra problem.
Second: there are solutions to problems like this, and whether you hire us, another company, or handle your problems internally you must have plans. It’s like data backup; you are doing it, right? And you have redundancy and disaster recover plans in place at your business?
Business Change comes in many forms, and some are no more complicated than keeping your eyes open. Shame on CBS News, though, for thinking they can create change by pointing out a problem but offering no solution.