Investigators have discovered that cable company Comcast has been unlawfully dumping its hazardous electronic equipment into California landfills since at least 2005. The company has also been failing to properly shred the personal records of their customers, leading to the possibility of a serious data breach. As a result, Comcast is now being forced to pay the state nearly $26 million for its unethical disposal practices.
With people ditching Comcast in favor of online streaming services, one would think that the company would have developed a better cleanup plan. Instead, cable and internet provider will be on the hook for millions of dollars. Needless to say, the company’s careless actions have come back to bite the cable provider very hard.
Since 2005, the dispatch and warehouse facilities of Comcast in California have been sending equipment such as remote controls, modems and amplifiers to landfills that do not accept electronic equipment. Additionally, the company also disposed of sensitive customer information that should have been shredded. These paper documents also could have been recycled, instead of just merely thrown away at landfills.
Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement, “Comcast’s careless and unlawful hazardous waste disposal practices jeopardized the health and environmental well-being of California communities and exposed their customers to the threat of identity theft.”
Comcast has cooperated throughout the investigation, and the company later put new practices in place to improve its disposal practices. The company also agreed to hire an independent auditor to monitor its compliance with environmental practices.
Comcast spokesperson Bryan Byrd said, “We have devoted considerable time and resources toward our environmental compliance and have taken a number of steps to improve our practices.”
In the past, Harris has won several other settlements against companies regarding their unethical disposal practices. Last year, AT&T was required to pay $23.8 million in a settlement, while Walgreens got hit with a $16.6 million settlement in 2012.
The settlement for Comcast includes $19.85 million in civil penalties and costs, $3 million for funding environmental and consumer protection and enforcement, $2.4 million for public service announcements and at least $700,000 to improve the disposal practices of the company. The settlement is still awaiting approval from a judge.