Devil’s Advocate with PII: Do You Have Any Privacy?

Uncategorized Posted Jun 14, 2013 by Kayla Krause

All of this news about the National Security Agency (NSA)’s PRISM system has got me thinking. What rights do we have to our Personally Identifiable Information (PII)? Has the internet completely eliminated our privacy? Or does it really matter if this information is left out over public wires? Let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute – stay with me…privacy policy

Ideally, PII should be used to identify, contact or locate a single person or individual (by means of a person’s name, date of birth, social security number, etc.) Unfortunately, PII is also used to steal another’s identity, and commit criminal acts. As technology has significantly advanced, especially with the internet, exploiting PII has become that much easier – which has led to many website policies that address collection and use of PII.

So, how many of you read those website policies? You know, it’s that tiny, tiny print at the bottom of the website or that pop-up box you get when signing up for a new account, it’s usually titled “Privacy Policies,” and tends to says something along the lines of: “Your privacy is very important to us…under these terms and conditions you agree to…” (note: credit is definitely given to that small percentage of you that do read that.) Gant Redmon, Esq., General Counsel and VP of Business Development at Co3 Systems, references this in one of his SecurityWeek columns, “Privacy Statements: Where Size Matters.” He states that despite the annoyance of these lengthy policy statements, they are worth the read, due to the simple fact that the longer the statement the more you may be putting your PII at risk. I’ll be totally honest, my privacy went out the door as soon as I joined Twitter and Facebook. But I guess that’s a risk (if you want to call it that) you have to be willing to take. I mean who doesn’t have an embarrassing photo on Facebook or an email with a little gossip?

Now that brings up another point: emails. Nowadays we hear of internal corporate systems getting hacked more often than we really should. This could be viewed as invasive and make employees feel vulnerable if an unauthorized user gains access to the server. However, this is different than your average Gmail account – which is used over the public internet. How comfortable are you sending emails via public wires? Do you even think about it like that? I sure don’t. But that’s why some people simply just use their work email to converse even with family or friends because some feel it’s more secure than an email sent through a Yahoo or Gmail address.

This poses another question then – do you care about your other information that is “out there?” I’m talking about the tweets or Facebook posts that state your opinions or the photos you share on Instagram of your family and favorite places to go out or to eat – do you have any privacy in terms (no pun intended) of these social media websites and applications? Again, this goes back to that fine print stating the privacy policies per each company. In a sense, it’s like saying, well you asked for it. If you sign up for one of these accounts you should care about what you’re getting yourself into and read what can happen if you don’t.

passwordDo we really know what we’re getting ourselves into? Maybe it’s my generation or type of world we live in today. New forms of social media come blazing in every month. Have we grown too accustomed to always wanting the coolest new technology that we don’t even think about our privacy anymore? Or do we even care that all of our information is out there for the world to see? Some people have that “well I don’t care” kind of attitude, while others are more reserved and would rather not share that information; I’m talking about those people not on Facebook or Google plus or Twitter.

As I mentioned earlier, the events of the last week have certainly got me thinking about privacy and our rights. Whether the internet has sabotaged our rights of privacy or you have that “well you asked for it” way of thinking about it – everyone is entitled to their own opinion. What do I think of this whole thing? Even after this game of devil’s advocate, I’m 100% 50/50 on the matter.