Next week marks the first annual conference of i-Sigma, the new association created after the merger of the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) and PRISM International.

It also marks the beginning of a new era for shredding companies.

Founded in 1994, NAID was originally formed to serve the relatively new and obscure industry of paper shredding. It was also formed in a drastically different world.

What was 1994 like?

  • According to research published by the Pew Center, 1994 saw Internet use in the United States “swell” (their words, not ours) to 5 million users.
  • Fewer than 11 million homes had modem-enabled computers.
  • If you had a cell phone, it weighed roughly 867 pounds and could only make phone calls—and it didn’t even do that reliably.
  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg marked an important personal milestone by turning 10 years old.
  • Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and even eBay and Yahoo! were non-existent.
  • Amazon was headquartered in Jeff Bezos’ garage, and Apple was teetering on the edge of failure.

The world, in other words, looked very different.

And so did data and privacy protection.

If we were to travel back in time to 1994 and ask the most-informed privacy and data protection experts what 2019 would look like, would they predict the rise of smartphones and explosion of personally identifiable information (PII)?

Probably not.

Looking forward 25 years, can today’s privacy experts accurately protect the specifics of what privacy protection will look like in the year 2044?

Probably not.

But we can tell you two things we’re sure of:

  • Electronic data will continue to take forms we could never imagine or predict.
  • Paper shredding will still exist, even with less paper to shred.

Electronically stored PII will continue to grow as platforms and services proliferate on mobile devices. Every time a founder brands their startup “The Uber of _____,” they are also saying “We plan to be a new and fast-growing startup that stores millions and millions of individual PII, and we will figure data security out as we scale rapidly.”

Just like Google and Facebook, some of those future platforms will inevitably experience massive data breaches.

However, PII will still be found on actual, physical paper—paper that needs to be shredded.

So, how do shredding companies prepare for an unknown future?

To begin with, they need to educate themselves. Attending events like the i-Sigma conference, carving out time to view educational webinars, and reading publications like Privacy Blog, the information governance news site IG Guru, the i-Sigma quarterly journal, and Recycling Today will help keep shredding companies informed on changes to data and privacy laws and best practices. Resources like these will help keep those owners and companies informed and at least one step ahead of the competition.

Second, just as CEO Bob Johnson and the Board of NAID recognized that data protection has become much more than “just shredding,” owners need to realize the only path forward is becoming an all-encompassing data and privacy protection resource for their customers.

That’s especially true for shredding companies that serve small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

In 1994, most SMBs likely stored the majority of customer PII on paper or in cumbersome databases. Today, customer PII may be stored on paper, in databases, on employee devices including iPhones and tablets, in text messages with customers, in the messenger function of the company Facebook page—along with a long list of other possible locations that are potential sources of devastating data breaches.

Over the next 25 years, the only shredding companies left standing will be the ones that realize a simple fact: It’s the PII that matters most, not the medium it’s stored on. Shredding company owners who recognize this reality become a trusted resource for their customers.

And shredding companies that are viewed by their customers as data and privacy experts won’t have to worry about the diminishing use of paper.


Because they are providing value that far exceeds the cost of the shredding service.

At CSR Privacy Solutions, we help shredding companies become trusted data and privacy experts for SMBs. When shredding companies partnerwith CSR, they help their customers mitigate and prevent data breaches regardless of how data is stored. When shredding companies partner with CSR, they transcend the term “shredding company” and become something far more valuable to their customers:

data security company backed by some of the most-noted privacy experts in the world.

And in the next 25 years, that’s exactly what SMBs will need.

(PS – Congrats to the board and executive leadership of i-Sigma for the successful merger and the upcoming conference, and we will see you in Booth 227!)

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