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What is Personally Identifiable Information?

 , updated on
Personally identifiable information is a legal term for any information that can potentially be tied back to a specific person. Common examples include:
Name
Social insurance number
IP addresses
Serial numbers
Registration numbers
Login ids
Membership identifiers
Photographs
Biometric records
Telephone numbers
Address
Device information
Combinations of data
Any other information that can be tied back to a person
The concept of personally identifiable information is commonly used to define privacy rights. In many cases, organizations comply with privacy laws by processes such as removing identifiers or data obfuscation. In some cases, such information can be re-identified using data analysis techniques.
Protection of personally identifiable information is important to guaranteeing individual rights such as freedom of expression and movement. As with most legal terms, it is interpreted by the courts in each jurisdiction and has no universally excepted definition. The concept tends to have a large number of grey areas such as whether a "34 year old white male who lives in Chicago, works at a coffee shop and drives a red Honda civic" is identifiable.
Overview: Personally Identifiable Information
Type
Definition
Information that can be tied back to a person.
Value
A legal term used to define privacy laws and regulations.
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