Personally Identifiable Information Essay

UNDERSTANDING OUR RESPONSIBILITY REGARDING PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION IFSM 201 JULY 22, 2012 Abstract Anyone who uses computer technology today accepts the fact that their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) may or could be transmitted, collected, and used to benefit the one who receives that information. It is our responsibility to know what PII transmissions are being made available for public use over the web. Understanding all the aspects of PII and the approaches that are to be taken to protect our privacy will make us more aware of PII.

As we continue to utilize the technology available, we expose ourselves to become donors of PII. Having knowledge of what PII is and how information is being compiled to identify our interest is necessary when accessing computer technology of today. Understanding Our Responsibility Regarding Personally Identifiable Information There are all kinds of companies, agencies, and groups that collect information about us every time we logon or access a website. This gathering of information happens in the background without our even being made aware of that action.

When seeking to identify a definition for the word privacy, there is no single meaning for the word because it is relative to the individual. Whenever someone engages in the use of a computer to communicate with another or connect to other communication devices, they introduce an opportunity of releasing private or PII. As a consumer, we need to be aware of what materials about our existence are available to the public and to individuals who may seek to do us harm in terms of identity theft.

How we choose to control the release of these materials and those that we choose not to release, is a measure of the privacy we assign to that concern (Allison, Capretz, Yamany, & Wang, 2012). Having a good understanding of what PII is and how to recognize the methods of obtaining PII is the first step to taking responsibility for our own protection. It’s a challenge for individuals to guard themselves from becoming victims of PII being transmitted. The most common method of obtaining PII is internet search engines (Poritz, 2007).

This is the search box that is displayed in Google or Firefox when we wish to look up information about a particular topic of interest. Whenever we type a word or a topic of interest into the search box section indicated by the word “Search”, we transmit information about ourselves and our interest at the execution of that search. Advertisers see that search engine box request and gather information about our interest in an effort to contact us relating to that topic of interest. As a result of the search, they then solicit us to provide their services (Poritz, 2007).

Information is being transmitted every time we type our subject of interest in the search engine box. The search engine creates a log file of our interest and advertisers obtain information about us from that particular search engine provider. It is not likely that the gathering of PII will cease in the near future. Search engines will continue to log and create files for usage by companies relating to our interest. Knowledge of how PII is transmitted and what we can do to minimize our contribution when surfing the web, will assure that information about us is distributed in a matter that is acceptable (Poritz, 2007).

In general, items such as social security numbers, driver license numbers, birth records, race, and sex are all considered sensitive PII (Homeland Security, 2011). Keeping our information unseen is about the business of security and not privacy. The two of these differ in that security deals with assuring that information that is being transmitted is not available for public use. Information about a person such as their birth and age is private. How we keep that information from the public is the security part of the puzzle (Allison, Capretz, Yamany, & Wang, 2012).

When using computers to conduct online searches, information is being relayed from one source to another. These transactions are recorded during the process and this information is then used to build a data file on the type of interest that is being acquired (Poritz, 2007). According to The Department of Homeland Security, we are required to submit our own personal information on forms requesting access to their facility. This is how they avoid the proliferation of our personal information and inform us that personal data is being collected and our consent is notice in accordance with the privacy act.

These procedures allow for proper handling of sensitive PII (Homeland Security, 2011). How to protect our PII issues first deals with knowing what information is considered to be that of a sensitive nature. Information that is compromised without our authorization that can cause us and inconvenience, embarrassment, or harm is considered PII (Homeland Security, 2011). Today we are more aware of the information that is being displayed throughout the internet with database files compiled containing our PII.

It is only when we become sensitive to the actions governing the use of PII that we take control of our rights to identify unauthorized usage that violates our privacy. There are many books and information available that will expand beyond the discoveries identified in this writing. When we continue to educate ourselves regarding the benefits of protecting PII, we become a strong cause to control and develop ways to understand our responsibility regarding the issues surrounding PII. References Allison, D. , Capretz, M. , Wang, S. , & El Yamany, H. (2012).

Privacy Protection Framework with Defined Policies for. Journal of Software Engineering and Applications, (5), 200-215. Poritz, J. (2007). Who Searches the Searchers? Community Privacy in the Age of Monolithic Search Engines. The Information Society, 23(5), 383-389 U. S. Department of Homeland Security. (2011). Handbook for Safeguarding Sensitive PII at DHS (). In . (Ed. ). ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Privacy has largely been equated with every individual’s right to privacy, and the concern is personally identifiable information, or PII. 2 ]. The loss of someone’s business card that has information about that individual does not present a concern for privacy. The security of sensitive information would not be included on the business card. [ 3 ]. To understand more about how DHS operates and governs the use of PII, visit the DHS website at http://www. dhs. gov/index. shtm [ 4 ]. Risk of harm refers to possibility that an individual may experience a substantial harm, embarrassment, unfairness or inconvenience to someone on whom information is filed.