User data is an essential part of building customer relationships and improving the overall experience of your services. Whether you're gaining new clients or maintaining the integrity of existing ones, the information you gather represents a unique part of them that deserves the utmost care.
With that in mind, how you implement data security and privacy, and use it to bolster the foundation of your firm is important. Certain considerations should be made to ensure that personal identifiable information (PII) is protected, and this includes the prospect of selling or transferring data to other entities.
To avoid any confusion or possible legal action, understanding the protocols surrounding PII and how it can be used will keep you ahead of the curve. If you're curious about the regulations involved with selling PII, then here are a few things to review:
What is Personal Identifiable Information (PII)?
PII represents information that can be used to track or detect an individual's identity. The information at hand can either trace someone by itself, or it can provide a fuller understanding of a person's identity once it's combined with additional information that is connected to a particular person.
In addition to present information, data that is considered non-PII can easily become constitutive if further information is made publicly available through a variety of sources and can be used in cooperation with initial data to determine someone's identity. Something else to be aware of is that PII is not reserved solely for technology sectors. In fact, issues involving PII demand special attention when determining the risk of someone's identity being compromised no matter what industry it's associated with.
What are the Best Practices for Handling PII?
The best way for companies to adhere to the rules of PII are to understand and implement the many laws and policies created to ensure data protection on multiple fronts.
For example, laws in the U.S., such as the U.S. Privacy Act, COPPA, and HIPPAA regulations are all designed to provide businesses with the tools they need to thoroughly respect user privacy and prevent data security breaches of any kind. Along with these regulations, there are also federal and independent entities that aid in maintaining the integrity of PII, like the Federal Trade Commission, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI).
On a worldwide scale, the adoption of another standard initiated by the European Union, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), transfers the ownership of customer data away from a business itself and places it back into the hands of the customer. Customers are informed about their rights and can choose to give their consent to store and use information on their behalf for distinct purposes. Many companies that ask users to consent to specific activities first before allowing them to use their services represent the best way to incorporate GDPR compliance, and for companies wishing to sell PII to outside businesses, this is the main practice to follow.
CAN PII BE SOLD?
Unfortunately, the reality is that any online activity that you exhibit is most likely being tracked, compiled, and sold to third-party businesses without your immediate knowledge. In a 2014 expose done by 60 Minutes, many marketing firms and companies act as "data brokers," distributing their accumulated user data to outside businesses, advertising agencies, and even governmental departments.
Although it may seem invasive, this kind of process is entirely legal as long as these sites and services gain consent from the customer before they're allowed access to their sites or applications. This is done through the use of initial consent forms that prompt a user to accept the terms and conditions of a particular site, notifying them that their PII can be compiled and shared. Spotify, Grubhub, and Lyft provide good examples of what a consent agreement may look like prior to a user signing up for a profile, whereas some websites may ask for consent once a customer signs up for a newsletter or promotional deal with their email address.
On the bright side, many companies do state that data security is their highest priority. They may have the legal authority to sell PII to outside entities, but they refrain from such behavior, other than distributing user information with trusted partners or vendors that help isolate target audiences and generate marketing campaigns.
ARE GET COMPLIANT AND PROTECT USER DATA WITH RISKVIEW
To establish compliance with different regulations and provide your clients with cutting-edge data security, RiskView by DDC OS USA, can give you an in-depth look into how your office manages user data and inform you about any potential risks that could compromise it.
Surprisingly, many security breaches are a result from improper training or oversight by an employee, so giving your team a chance to learn more about PII and what they can do to safeguard it will make your brand that much more trusted.
Data protection has become a main objective for businesses in the 21st century, and those who disregard its impact and necessity will surely leave themselves vulnerable to all kinds of threats. Rather than waiting for an attack to disrupt your success, get proactive today and learn more about what RiskView can do for you.