As the old saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished.” Well, the same can be said for UNICOR's best intentions with recycling technology. Apparently, you can take the criminal out of society, but they'll still find a way to break the law. And, sadly, many individuals and companies unknowingly proffer their data toward these nefarious ends. On the surface, this move to provide this service seems philanthropic, but it is actually damaging legitimate recyclers' reputations.
The Princess and the penal institution
UNICOR, the government plan to rehabilitate prisoners, is a sound program with a long history of perfectly respectable operations. However, when technology is added to anything, the result is like giving a kindergarten class Redbull. And that kind of potential needs to have its limits.
It’s true that the internet is a great equalizer; It can turn high-schoolers into millionaires and make the garage startup a viable business plan. But, that power can be just as dangerous as it is wondrous, and the potential for unlawful behavior gets equalized as well. That means the criminal mind has just as much opportunity to exploit technology as any one of the next internet phenoms does.
What is your e-recycler doing with your devices?
The bigger issue at work here is not about criminals being criminals. It’s about how those criminals gained access to technology—technology that might have sensitive client data on it. At Sage, we support e-Stewards recycling. e-Stewards standards are the highest in the industry, mostly because they conform to the Basel Convention list of hazardous waste. But, these high standards also forbid the deployment of devices to prisons.
R2 recycling certification does not require nearly as much regulation as e-Stewards does. And the result is that R2 recyclers can offload their hardware in lots of ways that are ethically and legally questionable—like working with UNICOR. But e-waste and recycled electronic devices are dangerous for both environmental reasons as well as security reasons. As such, a recycler should be held to a more extensive standard like that of e-Stewards.
The other side of the story
Choosing the right recycler is always important, but let’s back out of this issue to see the other ways you can ensure your company isn’t part of this scenario. For instance, choosing the right ITAM partner can add a layer of insulation from nefarious ends. A good ITAM company uses industry-standard data-erasure software to wipe 100% of the data from retired devices. That way, even if your recycler works with UNICOR, at least there won’t be security concerns.
Beyond security, a good ITAM partner will be able to support any philanthropic measures your business might want to take with its retired IT Assets. As an example, Sage’s GoodTogether program connects businesses with non-profit organizations local to them. Instead of providing prisons with technology, why not help charities operate more efficiently with recycled technology.
In fact, GoodTogether goes a step beyond just offering devices. We refurbish those devices, repackage, and even warranty the items donated. This puts a solid, well-working device in the hands of good people looking to do good with technology. And those are the kinds of headlines we want to see more of.
If you are wanting to recycle your IT assets responsibly, and potentially add a philanthropic edge to the mix, then look for an e-Stewards recycler and an ITAM company with a heart for the community. And let’s let UNICOR stick to rehabilitation without the potential for promoting contraband activity.