Our Personally Identified Information (PII) are Being Robbed

Personally identified information (PII) as defined in OMB Memorandum M-07-1616 refers to information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity. It includes our name, personal identification number, address information, personal facial characteristics, etc. The table below is the DPI (Department of Public Instruction) PII examples (not all inclusive).

There is no doubt that our PII is very valuable asset and it belongs to us, but the world seems to forgot that. The Internet giants, such as Facebook, Instagram, Google and etc., are all collecting and tracking our personal data and selling our data to the advertisers without our consent and knowledge to create a more completed business empire. For instance, when I was doing internship in a Japanese commercial company, my work was to design personal push content for social media users. The company are able to get very important users’ PII from WeChat, such as location, age, skin condition, salary and etc., and divide these users into different groups based on their PII information. Different group users are received different product recommendation and brand contents, like people living northern areas are likely to receive moisturizer product recommendation.

To some extent, our personal data assets are being robbed. Although some Internet companies take some action to “protect” personal data privacy, it seems that there are very little effects. For example, when we create an account of ITunes, we need to agree the Apple’s terms and conditions, but nobody will read these 36-page complicated words seriously. Most of us just skip the terms and click “agree”. Therefore, the rules of Internet privacy could not just be conducted by one-side. This principle prescribes that any matter which is essential because it either concerns fundamental rights of individuals or is important to the state must be dealt with by a parliamentary, democratically legitimized law. (Paul Nemitz)


Paul Nemitz, “Constitutional Democracy and Technology in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 376, no. 2133 (November 28, 2018): 20180089.