n. (abbr. PII)data that can be used to determine an individual’s identityBlankley 2004, 423The risk associated with posting court documents containing sensitive information is substantial. The possibility that another will use that information to commit identity theft or to engage in discriminatory hiring or renting greatly outweighs the benefits of having personally identifying information available for the public, researchers, or the press.US GAO 2008, 1, fn. 1For purposes of this report, the terms personal information and personally identifiable information are used interchangeably to refer to any information about an individual maintained by an agency, including (1) any information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as name, Social Security number, date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, or biometric records; and (2) any other information that is linked or linkable to an individual, such as medical, educational, financial, and employment information.McCallister, Grance, and Scarfone 2010, 2-2Examples of PII Data ¶ The following list contains examples of information that may be considered PII. ¶ Name, such as full name, maiden name, mother’s maiden name, or alias ¶ Personal identification number, such as social security number (SSN), passport number, driver’s license number, taxpayer identification number, patient identification number, and financial account or credit card number ¶ Address information, such as street address or email address ¶ Asset information, such as Internet Protocol (IP) or Media Access Control (MAC) address or other host-specific persistent static identifier that consistently links to a particular person or small, well-defined group of people ¶ Telephone numbers, including mobile, business, and personal numbers ¶ Personal characteristics, including photographic image (especially of face or other distinguishing characteristic), x-rays, fingerprints, or other biometric image or template data (e.g., retina scan, voice signature, facial geometry) ¶ Information identifying personally owned property, such as vehicle registration number or title number and related information ¶ Information about an individual that is linked or linkable to one of the above (e.g., date of birth, place of birth, race, religion, weight, activities, geographical indicators, employment information, medical information, education information, financial information).Lee and Woods 2013, 300Personal and personally identifying information is not inherently private, and includes information that belongs to a specific individual (or group of individuals). . . . Users may be unaware of other types of personally identifying information; for example, EXIF metadata within jpeg image containing geolocation data (GPS tracking information), and logs of user activity stored by an operating system over time.Behrnd-Klodt 2015, 10–11In a 2006 study of access and privacy issues for the National Center for State Courts’ Court Executive Development Program, Lynn E. Sudbeck outlined various proposals to rebalance public access to court records with privacy interests. These included . . . allowing individuals to petition for removal of personally identifiable information.Lawrence 2016, 75Of course government agencies, institutions, corporations, and other large entities have quite a bit of personally identifiable information about citizens, employees, clients, customers, students, and patients accumulate in their files, much of which is already covered by privacy laws that in themselves restrict what is likely to be saved for any length of time, much less transferred to a repository to which the public has access.OMB 2016, app. II-1The term PII, as defined in this Circular, refers to information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, either alone or when combined with other information that is linked or linkable to a specific individual. Because there are many different types of information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, the term PII is necessarily broad.NARA 2023What is PII? ¶ PII includes any information about an individual maintained by an agency, including, but not limited to, education, financial transactions, medical history, and criminal or employment history and information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as their name, social security number, date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, biometric records, etc.US DOL 2023Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is defined as: ¶ Any representation of information that permits the identity of an individual to whom the information applies to be reasonably inferred by either direct or indirect means. Further, PII is defined as information: (i) that directly identifies an individual (e.g., name, address, social security number or other identifying number or code, telephone number, email address, etc.) or (ii) by which an agency intends to identify specific individuals in conjunction with other data elements, i.e., indirect identification.
PII can be used either alone or when combined with other information that is linked or linkable to the individual. It is also called personal identifiable information, personal identifying information, and personally identifying information.