Councils across the UK can now reap the financial and social benefits associated with refurbishing or decommissioning and recycling the country’s outdated IT equipment, following a landmark deal that will see 50% of the equipment reprocessor’s profits being put to good use in the community.
The Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise (iESE) has entered into a partnership with ICT Refurbishment Ltd to ensure half of all profits made by ICTR through safely disposing of councils’ confidential data will now be ploughed back into helping the public sector sustain and improve services.
In 2011, 77% of the UK’s e-waste was illegally exported to West Africa. Criminal gangs exploited young children to sift through the waste to recover copper and more worrying, un-wiped data to feed illicit markets.
As of April 2010, the ICO can serve a civil monetary penalty of up to £500,000 (up from £5,000) on any data controller that has committed a serious, reckless or intentional breach of one or more of the eight principles of the Data Protection Act (DPA.) This is going to increase in 2014 with current proposals being considered at 2% of global turnover. More worryingly, if the data is subsequently sold it becomes a criminal offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act, which could have far more serious implications for the data controller.
Steven Coates, Chief Executive of ICTR, said: “By finding the safest, most secure and sustainable way to dispose of unwanted IT equipment, councils can be assured that their e-Waste will either be helping the most vulnerable in society, be upgraded and redeployed back to them to save budgets or recycled appropriately. ”There is a lot of confidential information on local authority ICT and councils across the UK need to ensure that their e-waste is completely stripped of all information when it is either passed on or given to a waste disposal agent. They need to be fully assured that they are working within the law.”
Cllr Paul Bettison, Chairman of iESE and Leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said: “No longer should a three-year-old company computer, out of warranty, ever be regarded as e-waste. By working with iESE and ICTR not only will public bodies, where available, make financial gains, they also get the chance to help a parent to plug their home into the internet for the first time to enable their child to do their homework or an elderly person to break free from the physical constraints of old age and stay in touch with the wider world and access online services.
“By not paying for disposal services you are asking your disposal company to play this game on your behalf and if they lose the game it is you that will suffer. You will be the one paying the fine and cleaning up the damage to your reputation. Cases of personal data ending up on eBay or equipment being illegally exported and dumped proves that overall this game is not being played very well. Corners are being cut.”