A courtroom in Madison County was recently exposed by The Telegraph for dumping unshredded court documents in open recycling bins behind the facility. The case demonstrates the need for agencies and businesses to enforce a suitable document management system, as the privacy of both defendants and plaintiffs is vital in a litigation setting. Defendants who are wrongly accused and whose records are expunged can face lingering negative effects if the information is accidentally leaked. Even victims were at risk, with personal details such as their date of birth, social security number and home address being easily accessible to the public.
The court retains its stance that its handling of the documents violated no laws or regulations. It currently processes all records by converting them to microfilm and disposing of the paper trail in a timely manner. However, the court admitted it should create new guidelines for the destruction of the transcripts and have agreed to do more to protect the information.
The worrying part of the case appears to center around the large amount of personally identifiable information that can be found on the forms, opening up innocent citizens to the threat of identity theft and fraud. The problem facing the Madison County courthouse should prove as a good reminder for corporations and government agencies to properly destroy all paper documents after their digitization.