What Are the Laws on Document Shredding?

Document shredding falls under federal law, federal agency regulations, and state and municipal statues, explains Iron Mountain. The primary federal law governing document shredding is the Sarbanes-Oxley Law, which states that destruction, damaging or falsification of any document or record with the intent to impede, influence or obstruct any legal or civil investigation or bankruptcy filing is illegal and subject to fine and 20 years in prison, according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University.

The first law that all document shredders must comply with is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This federal act is a strict law that views document shredding as an obstruction of justice and requires corporations and businesses to retain large amounts of documents and communication, including email records, reports the Business Law Journal of the University of California Davis School of Law.

In addition to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, many federal agencies have regulations limiting document shredding. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act governs the preservation of medical records and patient information. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act governs the record keeping of banks, credit card companies, financial institutions and credit reporting agencies, notes Iron Mountain.

At least 32 states have laws regarding digital and paper record keeping. These state laws cover identity protection and document destruction, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

California, Georgia and Massachusetts have some of the most important state laws covering document shredding. Massachusetts bill 931 requires the burning or pulverizing of personal information not required for investigations. Georgia Senate bill 475 imposes heavy fines for the improper disposal or shredding of documents. California Senate bill 1386 punishes businesses for improperly disposing personal information and records, explains Iron Mountain.