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Are you keeping boxes of documents?

Have you ever wondered what’s in all those corporate boxes of paper sent to the warehouse for storage?

If the answer to that second question is “no” then there could be a problem ahead. Crown Records Management has stored boxes on behalf of clients for many years and even in this data-led age we still look after millions across the world. There’s no shortage of business and legal-critical documents medical records and more that need to be stored: securely, safely and with a view towards their being recalled when necessary.

Storage remains an important service for many businesses and that is unlikely to change; but as information management and data protection continues to evolve, the boxes cannot be ignored.

Unopened storage cartons full of old data could be a threat

GDPR and CCPA are here and bring with them a new age in which citizens are given far greater rights over their personal data.

They will have the right to ask for data to be edited, deleted or ported – and there will be strict timeframes around how quickly requests need to be actioned.

Additionally, there will be far stricter guidelines on what information can be stored in the first place. Businesses will need the express permission of people to collect, store and process their data. There is a potential for substantial fines if information is not managed or used correctly.

But what not many people have realised is that the new regulations not only applies to digital data, but also to physical data on paper too.

That means keeping boxes full of records when you don’t need to, especially when you have no idea what they contain, is potentially a ticking data time bomb. It could cost businesses a lot of money and in the worst-case scenario lead to potential fines.

So how big is the problem?

Getting accurate figures on the number of boxes affected across the country is difficult because of the mix of outsourced managed items and ‘in-house’ storage facilities. Then there are also self-storage or removals companies that house documents too.

Crown alone stores millions of cartons of documents and estimates that around 15% are either past their destroy date or, have been kept for over 10 years having never been accessed.

Of course, many boxes need to be kept for legal and regulatory reasons and others hold information which could have value in future.

However, a lot of people are keeping boxes of documents ‘just in case’ or because they don’t know what’s in them and no one has the time or funding to do that, so the problem just grows. Some items are kept because of the fear of destroying something that may miraculously become useful on the future.

Under emerging legislation around data privacy, companies urgently need to know what data they are storing, and where it is, and how it is being used. Those that do are more likely to prosper, as the public is more aware and more attuned to the regulations whilst for those that ignore the regulations, the clock is ticking!

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