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CANADA OFFICIAL: STAPLES RESOLD HARD DRIVES WITH CUSTOMER DATA

Source: Boston Business Journal

Posted on June 30, 2011

Canada's top consumer privacy regulator hit Staples Inc. Tuesday in a press release that accused the office supply retailer of failing to wipe sensitive data from returned devices destined for resale.

The alleged breaches took place in Canadian Staples Business Depot stores. Founded in 1990 with an investment from Staples Inc., Staples Business Depot is wholly owned by the Framingham, Mass.-based retail chain, and has its headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

According to Canada's privacy commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, the breaches affected laptop computers and flash drives, and compromised sensitive information including Social Insurance Numbers, and health card and passport numbers; academic transcripts; banking information and tax records. An audit conducted by Stoddard's office examined 149 data storage devices marked for resale, and found that fully one third of them had not been wiped clean of personal data.

"Our findings are particularly disappointing given we had already investigated two complaints against Staples involving returned data storage devices and the company had committed to taking corrective action," Stoddart said in a statement included in a press release: "While Staples did improve procedures and control mechanisms after our investigations, the audit showed those procedures and controls were not consistently applied, nor were they always effective - leaving customers' personal information at serious risk."

In a statement emailed to the Boston Business Journal, Staples responded to the press release, noting that the company had "cooperated fully" with the audit, and saying Staples Canada has "implemented changes that we believe exceed current industry practice to remove personal data from returned memory devices." Further, Staples stated that "many" of the problems discovered by the audit "represent industry-wide challenges," and called for "industry-wide standards for information protection."




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