Are your paper documents GDPR proof?

Just in case you missed it, the recent introduction of the European GDPR legislation has highlighted the need for data protection.

Whilst much of the media discussion on this subject has concentrated on electronic security to stop data breaches, information contained on printed paper continues to be an exposure for many companies.

The legislation

The new law essentially seeks to safeguard the privacy of information held about individuals within the European Union. Space doesn’t permit a full discussion of its many provisions but essentially it means that a company found to be in transgression of the law will be liable to very significant financial penalties.

So much discussion has been focused on the issues arising here through things such as hacking and identity theft applied in an electronic concept, that there is a risk some companies may have lost sight of the issues associated with non-electronic data storage and what that means when trying to stop data breaches.

Paper survives

The first discussion of the viability of a paperless office and advocating its development goes back now something like 70 years – if not more.
Yet even today we have still,as a society, failed to achieve it. There are many reasons for that but it means that many offices continue to be awash with or significantly reliant upon hard copy.

The first key message coming out of this is that it is imperative you take all steps to:

  • Ensure that all printed materials on your premises are appropriately secured
  • Make sure you have taken all required steps to protect against unauthorised re-printing through your various office printing and scanning technology
  • Ensure that all hard copies, when no longer required, are totally and personally destroyed by your organisation rather than dumped or entrusted to another company to dispose of


However, the issues and exposures arising from this may give organisations the opportunity to sit back and objectively question just why they are still producing and using so much paper.

At face value, this rarely appears to be a question of technology being inadequate for the job. For example, we can source “big pad solutions” that can be used as your sketching and design workbook. No paper needs to be produced at all.

We can also produce scanners which mean you could quickly convert incoming paperwork from other sources to digitised content, thereby allowing you to dispose of the paperwork immediately afterwards.

What is often a conceptual problem for organisations is simply changing their own internal business processes to operate electronically rather than by paper. This is essentially about cultural transformation rather than necessarily technological revolution.

For example, that process which requires an inbound written piece of paper from another department before it will start should be changed to accept electronic authorisation of the same.


The business benefits of our technology and moving to a paperless operation are significant. They’re not exclusively related to reducing your risks of failing to comply with the latest legislation.

True, there may continue to be some situations where you do need to produce hard copy output. Examples there might be some legal processes and some publicity materials. In all those circumstances our advanced printing solutions will be able to help.

Overall though, it might be advantageous to start to consider ways in which the declining use of paper in society as a whole can be reflected in your organisation.