Electronic Recyclers International CEO Cites ‘Case of the Discarded Laptop’ as Privacy Warning for All

John Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), the nation’s leading recycler of electronic waste, has issued a public statement classifying a discarded laptop containing private e-mails as a lesson to be learned by anyone with a computer.

The discarded laptop found in the garbage has made headline news this week. E-mails found on the laptop have shed new light on Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre’s legal battle with the SEC over his involvement with controversial sales of mortgage securities, according to recent New York Times reports.

The laptop made its way into the hands of Times reporters Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson. The reporters got hold of non-public communications from Tourre’s lawyers to the SEC from the laptop, which had been given to the Times by New York artist and filmmaker, Nancy Cohen, who says she found the materials in the laptop her friend had given her after finding it discarded in the garbage area of a downtown New York apartment building.

Shegerian warns that while this found information may be useful in aiding the legal process, it also serves as a reminder of the importance for everyone to protect their privacy and never simply throw computer data in the trash.

“Although environmental protection is still the paramount concern when it comes to the appropriate disposal of electronic waste,” said Shegerian, “a concurrent issue that needs to be addressed by all governmental, corporate and US citizens is data protection. If data from the hard drives of disposed consumer electronic devices is not properly shredded and destroyed, personal data will continue to be breached and our Homeland and National Security can be put in senseless jeopardy. At ERI, we know how important this is and have developed the world’s most efficient shredding technology for the destruction and recycling of e-waste. Fabrice Tourre’s discarded laptop serves as a powerful example of why the appropriate disposition of electronic waste needs to be addressed now on a national level.”