The digital divide

May & Dolyana: **environmental issues** **countries effected by e-waste**

Technology used in the global society has been increasing rapidly but only 10% of electronics are recycled. The rest are shipped to foreign countries, end up in landfills, are incinerated or are used in prison labor. All of these could have serious effects on human and environmental health.

Electronics contain many hazardous materials such as mercury, lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride plastic. All are toxic and are responsible for kidney damage, neurological damage, liver damage, cancer, bronchitis etc.

These chemicals could also seep into and pollute soil and groundwater – just 1/7th of a teaspoon of mercury can contaminate 20 acres of a lake. As for the electronics sent out to be incinerated, toxic chemicals are released into the air, thus contributing to air pollution.

Most of the donated/discarded electronics are shipped overseas to be handled or resold in developing countries like China, India and Africa (instead of being reused/recycled in the US) because of their cheap labor and the lack of health and environmental restrictions, for example at least 100,000 computers per month were dumped at the Nigerian port of Lagos. And in the EU, the amount of e-waste may increase by 3-5% per year whilst developing countries might have 3 times of increasing e-waste per year. Most of them are actually junk, un-repairable and unusable, so they end up being dumped and burned in open air dumps or ditches. This poses health threats to locals.

Millions of tons of electronic waste end up in US landfills each year. This is a dangerous method of management as landfills and incinerators contribute to land, water and air contamination. Groundwater could get severely contaminated, and eventually it could filter into public water supplies and the food chain. Furthermore, landfills can cause uncontrolled fires, releasing extremely toxic compounds into the atmosphere.


Data on Computers

ROZANNA: **Data on Computers**

Data Wipeout/Deleting Data: Technical Aspects

It’s very important to remove personal data from a retired computer’s hard drive. It isn’t enough to send the files to the Recycle Bin delete the files or reformat the hard drive because the files can be recovered and unformatted.
The space that was used by deleted files need to be overwritten with new data.
The whole hard drive should be wiped out in order to remove every trace of financial details, passwords, emails, etc.
For Macs and PCs, Darik's Boot and Nuke are free, easy solutions to destroy data on the hard drives.
Wipe Info module of the Norton Utilities suite is also used for Macs and PCs. This completely wipes out all the contents of specific file or the free space on the disk but this process assumes you have chosen every file that needs to be wiped out which is not always easy.
KillDisk is also free but it only works on PCs.
Other drive-wiping utilities can be found on
Otherwise the hard drive can be removed from the computer before the computer being sent for recycling. This is a much safer choice.
The MSDOS commands, FDISK and FORMAT is used on PCs.

Some of these packages (eg Wipe Infomodule of the Norton Utilities suite and SDELETE) implement the US Department of Defense standard for clearing and sanitizing disks (DOD 5220.22-M).
Packages such as Eraser and SDELETE are available to be used at home or work for free provided they are downloaded from the reference site.
Donations are welcomed in some cases.
Every Mac and PC is bought with a licence for the operating system supplied with it.
So a machine can be legally disposed of with a newly installed copy of the same system. But, a later copy of the system software shouldn’t be installed.
It is suggested that you should not sell machines with applications software installed; many licences can’t be transferred with the computer.
It is difficult to recommend a recipe to cover all eventualities but as a guideline we give the following:
  1. If the computer is being transferred to another school/unit and does not hold particularly sensitive data, either (a) repartition and reformat the disk and reinstall the original operating system or (b) delete all user files (eg my documents, email and downloads folders) and uninstall all licensed applications software packages.
  2. If the computer is being transferred for use by anyone out with a school/unit and/or is believed to hold sensitive data (a) repartition and reformat the disk, reinstall the original operating system and run Wipe Info or the equivalent.

UK bank details sold in Nigeria
Britons’ bank account details are being sold in West Africa for around £20 each according to the BBC’s Real Story programme.
It discovered that fraudsters in Nigeria were able to find internet banking data stored on recycled PCs sent from the UK to Africa. The information can be found on a PC's hard disk, which is easy to access if the drive is not wiped before sending.
Anti-fraud expert Owen Roberts said simply deleting files was not enough.
Users should instead use a programme to wipe their hard drive before they sell or give away their PC, a process which over-writes what is already contained on the drive.
Alternatively, people should remove their hard drives before they give away their computers, he said.