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There are laws and regulations in every country articulating what is considered "private data." Personally identifiable information (PII) is defined as "information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual's identity (e.g., name, social security number, biometric records) alone or combined with other personal or identifying information linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth or mother's maiden name."

PII has strict requirements in how it should be managed and shared, and who can (or can't) see it. Although the laws and regulations may lag technology's capability, they still need to be followed.

But what about the "creep" factor of using PII?

"In the Information Age, everybody leaves a digital trail," states a Wikihow article. "And if the person doesn't have one, well, let's look harder. With Google, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and countless other social media sites, whoever you're looking for is bound to have some of their personal information online. Although sometimes creepy, it's easy to follow this trail all the way back to the person you've been looking for."

That goes well beyond creepy to downright scary.

I know many people who happily share a lot of information that I'd consider personal and private on Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. They thoroughly enjoy the reach and actively look to distribute that information far and wide.

Users must look a little harder at what they are sharing and really decide whether sharing information that can lead to the identification of yourself, your children, your home address, your car, and the last place you visited on holiday is worth the "likes" you may receive.

Private Information Made Public

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image of Kelle O'Neal

Kelle O'Neal is founder and CEO of First San Francisco Partners, a boutique business advisory and enterprise information management (EIM) consultancy dedicated to helping companies harness their data to improve strategic decision making, reduce risk, create operational efficiencies, and fuel unprecedented business success.

LinkedIn: Kelle O'Neal