PII Defined

PII stands for Personally Identifiable Information. It refers to any information that can be used to identify a specific individual. Examples of PII include names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, social security numbers, and any other data that can directly or indirectly identify a person.

How to Use it in a Sentence

To comply with privacy regulations, our digital marketing campaign only collects minimal PII, such as email addresses, and ensures secure handling of this sensitive information.

Common FAQs

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) refers to any data that can be used to identify an individual. Examples of PII include, but are not limited to:

  1. Full Name: A person's first name and last name or their full legal name.
  2. Date of Birth: Information about an individual's birth date.
  3. Home Address: The physical address where a person lives, including street address, city, state, and ZIP code.
  4. Email Address: A personal email address used for communication.
  5. Phone Number: Personal phone numbers, including mobile and landline numbers.
  6. Social Security Number (SSN): A unique identifier assigned to U.S. citizens and residents for tax purposes.
  7. Driver's License Number: The unique identification number on a driver's license.
  8. Passport Number: The unique identifier on a passport used for international travel.
  9. Financial Information: Credit card numbers, bank account details, or other financial identifiers.
  10. Biometric Data: Unique physical characteristics such as fingerprints, facial recognition data, or retinal scans.
  11. Health Information: Medical records, health insurance information, or other health-related data.
  12. IP Address: An Internet Protocol address assigned to a device connected to a computer network.
  13. Usernames and Passwords: Information used to access online accounts or systems.
  14. Employment Information: Employment history, job title, or employer details.
  15. Vehicle Registration Number: The unique identifier assigned to a vehicle.
  16. Cookies and Online Identifiers: Persistent identifiers used by websites and online services to track user behavior.

It's important to note that PII can vary depending on the context and applicable regulations. Organizations and individuals should handle PII with care to protect privacy and comply with data protection laws.

In the context of digital marketing, PII is important for several reasons:

  1. Privacy and Compliance: Like HIPAA regulations in healthcare, digital marketers must be aware of and comply with privacy laws and regulations that govern the use of PII. These laws include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and various data protection laws in different countries.
  2. User Consent and Transparency: Marketers must obtain explicit consent from users before collecting and using their PII for marketing purposes. This involves informing users about how their data will be used and giving them the choice to opt in or opt out of data collection.
  3. Data Security and Protection: PII is sensitive information that must be securely stored and protected from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. Marketers must implement robust security measures to safeguard PII against data breaches or cyber attacks.
  4. Relevance and Personalization: Digital marketers often use PII to personalize marketing messages and target specific audiences. However, they must ensure that the use of PII is relevant and respectful of user privacy preferences.
  5. Trust and Brand Reputation: Mishandling PII can lead to breaches of trust and damage to a brand's reputation. Consumers are increasingly concerned about how their personal data is used, and brands that prioritize data privacy and transparency tend to earn more trust from their audience.

PII is critical in digital marketing because it involves handling sensitive personal information that requires strict adherence to privacy laws and ethical practices. Marketers must prioritize data privacy, transparency, and security to build trust with consumers and comply with regulatory requirements.

Check out our podcast on Understanding Data Laws, GDPR & CCPA.

Managing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in the context of user messaging across various channels such as push notifications, email, SMS, and others requires careful consideration of privacy, security, and compliance with relevant regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). Here's how PII can be managed effectively:

  1. Data Minimization: Collect only the necessary PII required for messaging purposes. Avoid collecting excessive or irrelevant information. For example, if an email address is sufficient for sending newsletters, there's no need to collect additional details like phone numbers or home addresses.
  2. Secure Data Storage: Ensure that PII is stored securely using encryption and access controls. Use secure databases and cloud services that comply with industry standards for data protection.
  3. Consent Management: Obtain explicit consent from users before sending messages or collecting PII. Clearly explain the purpose of data collection and allow users to opt in or opt out of receiving messages. Consent management platforms can help manage user preferences effectively.
  4. Anonymization and Pseudonymization: When possible, use techniques like anonymization or pseudonymization to protect PII. For instance, replacing identifiable information with artificial identifiers can reduce the risk of exposure in case of data breaches.
  5. Channel-Specific Compliance: Understand and comply with regulations specific to each messaging channel. For example, SMS marketing in the United States falls under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act), which requires specific consent for sending commercial messages via SMS.
  6. Data Retention Policies: Implement data retention policies to delete PII when it's no longer needed for messaging purposes or when the user requests deletion. Define clear timelines for retaining and deleting user data.
  7. Secure Transmission: Use secure communication protocols (e.g., HTTPS) when transmitting PII over networks. Ensure that third-party service providers involved in message delivery also comply with security standards.
  8. Regular Audits and Compliance Checks: Conduct regular audits of data handling practices and ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Stay updated with changes in privacy laws to adapt messaging practices accordingly.
  9. User Access and Rights: Provide users with access to their PII and allow them to update or delete their information. Respect user rights related to data privacy and respond promptly to user requests.
  10. Employee Training: Educate employees about the importance of data privacy and security. Ensure that staff handling PII are trained on best practices and aware of compliance requirements.

Leveraging a messaging provider like OneSignal can help you maintain compliance with national and international guidelines while securely managing your user data.

OneSignal is Privacy Shield Certified, a framework that provides companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a mechanism to comply with data protection requirements when transferring personal data from the European Union and Switzerland to the United States in support of transatlantic commerce. This certification ensures that the US and EU-based companies are compliant with GDPR provisions when using OneSignal.

Learn more about Security and Privacy at OneSignal and check out our Privacy Policy for more detailed information.