Data and Disposition: How Disposition Protects Loss of Privacy in a Data-Driven World

Data is everywhere—when we click, swipe, type, or Skype, data is created and stored into various databases. What happens when that data is breached, identities are stolen, privacy is lost, or loss of property occurs? For public agencies, data breaches can result in loss of confidential or valuable information.

What does this have to do with disposition? Disposition is the process in which a record is destroyed or transferred to another public agency. It is a great way to protect and secure government data. Disposition within your offices saves money, protects records, and makes access to records easier for employees of government offices and the public.

Cost

Eventually, the cost of keeping all of your data will be more than the cost of having an up-to-date disposition process. When data is kept permanently, local governments and state agencies will have to spend more to continually maintain their storage systems. Another associated cost is when data systems will need to be updated to maintain the integrity and usability of data.

Information Security

Having routine data disposition practices can prevent sensitive data from being breached. When data is kept permanently, local governments and state agencies open themselves to sensitive information being obtained by bad actors. A disposition process allows information that has met retention and is not needed to be disposed, which makes it easier to retrieve information that is needed.

TSLAC has rules and guidelines for local governments and state agencies to use. Section 6.97(b) of Bulletin 1 states:

“A state agency must ensure that an electronic state record scheduled for disposition is disposed of in a manner that ensures protection of confidential information.”

Along with this, in section 6.97(c) of Bulletin 1 states:

“A state agency must establish and implement procedures that address the disposition of electronic state records by staff in accordance with its certified records retention schedule as well as secure destruction requirements from the Department of Information Resources, including identifying and disposing of transitory information.”

For local governments, Section 7.78(b)(1) of Bulletin B states:

“(b) Each local government must ensure that:

(1) electronic records scheduled for destruction are disposed of in a manner that ensures protection of any confidential information…

(2) magnetic storage media previously used for electronic records containing confidential information are not reused if the previously recorded information can be compromised by reuse in any way.”

Ease of Access

When fewer records are in your storage system, fewer records exist to protect. This allows public offices to understand what they have and how to better protect it. Transferring records to a proper public agency helps mitigate the risk of data breaches (archival libraries are well equipped to keep records as safe as possible). If you know what type of record you have and where, it can be properly destroyed when needed.

Having a proper disposition process allows ease of access to your systems. If you know what type of record you have, there is a better chance you protect it properly or destroy records when needed. In our trainings, we like to tell people that disposition creates space. When records are disposed of properly, there’s no need to dig through old or non-valuable records that obscure access to the records that are needed. Whether as a result of a public information request or internal request, it is important to access your records as efficiently as possible.

Conclusion

Disposition does not have to be a bad or scary thing. In fact, disposition allows local governments and state agencies to release records in a safe and responsible manner. Dispositions allows public agencies to save money, prevent data breaches, and makes it easier to use electronic records management systems. Check out the disposition policy in your public office to see how it works in detail!

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