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What is PII and Its Role Under General Data Protection Regulation?

Published By Kumar Raj
Aswin Vijayan
Approved By Aswin Vijayan
Published On November 30th, 2018
Reading Time 5 Minutes Reading

Securing confidential information on cloud is a shared responsibility. Cloud service provider’s customers responsibility is to use associated services that comply with regulations, laws, and policies wherever needed. The European union GDPR commands enterprises to keep strong privacy on EU customer’s data. This means that PII of European citizens needs to secure and safe by the companies who use it. Gets the answer to What is PII and Its Role Under General Data Protection Regulation?

What is PII?

PII or Personal identifiable information is a content, which determines actual identity of an individual. Email address, social security numbers, phone numbers, and other are common things that give one’s identification come under PII data. It also comprises of login IDs, digital pictures, IP address, geolocation, biometric record, etc. In simple words, PII is a kind of sensitive information, which is related to an individual entity like employee, patient, customer, and donor. Responsible organizations who are keeping records of employees, patients, customers, etc., should impose restrictions on PII data accessing and handle it with care. A single person can be located, identified, or contacted if PII gets leaked. The type of content, which directly or indirectly does not provides identification of a person is not categorized under PII. Protection of PII in form of contractual obligations, university policies, and state & federal laws and regulations, is mandatory in a business. These policies are applied with the purpose of protecting PII, which is stored through any type of media like paper, microfiche, electronic, and more.

Note – Personal identifiable information does not comprise of publicly present information, which is legally made available for the public in state, local, or federal government records.

What is PII, Sensitive Information, and Personal Information?

The term PII is an American term, which is used to define personal records of European citizens. However, PII and personal information – both these terms do not generally correspond with one another. One can say that all PII is personal data but, all personal data is not PII. In context to GDPR, personal information comprises of broad range of records. You need to perform deep analysis of personal data on broad range (not only upon PII), before complying GDPR.

Keep one thing very clear in mind that PII is any kind of information that is capable of identifying actual people personality. This can be single piece of content or multiple. On the other hand, personal information is any data that relates to a user either in a direct or indirect manner. With reference to the GDPR context, personal information determines the kind and collection of data for processing & storage purpose.

Talking about the sensitive information then, it requires special care because it incorporates advanced requirements for data processing and protection. In general, it is used widely in healthcare industries. If this sensitive content of an organization gets breached, the highest level of risk with unexpected harm will be caused. GDPR categorizes Genetic and biometric information as sensitive personal data.

What Is PII As Per GDPR?

On May 25, 2018, General data protection regulation came into the effect where all organizations who posses EU citizen data have to comply with it. The purpose of releasing this compliance is to process and manage the PII of European people in a secure manner. GDPR states that cloud identifiers and data location are all personal and must be kept safely in all aspects. In GDPR summary of articles, one will find a proper definition of genetic data, biometric data, and pseudonymous data.

Several officials raise a question that Is encrypted personal data a non-personal content? The answer to this question is No. The role of encryption technology is not to convert personal content into a non-personal one. It strongly protects the PII data by converting the readable information of PII into unreadable format. This will make PII information appear like nothing for hackers or unauthorized users. The enterprise that utilized technical approaches to pseudonymize information afford some regulation leniency. It is so because PII after encryption is of no use for attackers or unknown individuals. All these things are carried away on the basis of data breach notifications. Cloud security can be made flexible and reduced up to large extent by using data encryption technology. It decreases the cloud computing security risks and its major harm up to huge level.

Note – Pseudonymous information is categorized as personal data, which lies within the GDPR regulation’s constraints.

Observational Verdict

In today’s date, it is becoming tough for enterprises to comply with online data privacy standards. Companies can go for data-centric approach to protect personal identifiable information directly and make it of no use with help of pseudonymisation or encryption. When you adopt this solution to protect PII under GDPR, you will actually feel relaxed. Being a responsible person, it is your own duty to keep sensitive content or PII secure on public clouds. Do not be dependent upon cloud service provider because at the end of the day, online data protection is a shared responsibility.