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FTC probes privacy concerns with digital copiers

The Federal Trade Commission said it is reviewing concerns that digital copy machines were retaining sensitive information and is reaching out to retailers and government agencies to safeguard users’ private data.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a letter (pdf) last week to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that the agency has also launched an education campaign around informing users of copy machines that information such as financial and health data can be retained on hard drives. Machines that retain data can be accessed by identity thieves, particularly as copiers are resold without wiping clean hard drives.

“Like you, we also are concerned that personal information can be so easily retrieved by copiers, making it vulnerable to misuse by identity thieves,” Leibowtiz wrote.

The privacy implications of digital copy machines stem from a report by CBS that showed copiers were essentially acting as computers, with hard drives data being circulated among several parties as copiers were resold. Markey had called for an investigation into the issue.

“I am also pleased to learn that the FTC is reaching out to copier manufacturers and resellers to ensure that all parties are aware of the privacy risks associated with digital copiers while helping to educate the public about this important issue,” Markey said.

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By Cecilia Kang  |  May 18, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  FTC , Privacy  | Tags: Federal Trade Commission, Identity theft  
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I've read every story I can find on this, and none of them addresses the obvious question: WHY?
Why on earth would these copier companies build in this function of saving everything they copy? I can't imagine any possible valid reason for doing so. Yet nobody seems to have even asked this question.

Posted by: dlc2 | May 18, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

There’s no doubt this is an important topic and one we don’t take lightly at Xerox. To read more about how Xerox is helping customers with their office security needs, check out our blog at or visit

– Larry Kovnat, product security manager, Xerox Corporation

Posted by: larrykovnat | May 18, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

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