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Personally Identifying Information (PII) data: What is it?

Most organizations are aware that they need to adhere to certain compliance regulations when dealing with PII data, but there may still be some confusion around what it is. 

PII data, or personally identifiable information, is data that can be used to identify a specific individual. This data usually includes identifiers such as name, home address, phone number and email address. It can also include social security numbers, and date of birth. 

Companies must ensure the safety of personally identifying information by providing encryption and data destruction services. IT Data destruction services involve securely erasing data from devices once they are no longer in use, ensuring that no personal identifying information remains vulnerable. Companies must take adequate measures to protect personal data while still allowing individuals access to this essential data when needed.

Unlike Europe’s PII data protection, also known by its General Data Protection Regulation or (GDPR), the United States does not have federal regulation on data protection, besides guidelines. However, some states have recently enacted PII protections of their own. In the state of California, PII protection is known as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which acts similarly to Europe’s GDPR. 

For this reason, it is important for businesses to understand what constitutes PII data and how to protect it from unauthorized access or misuse.

Though it is often thought that personal data only applies to names, addresses or emails, it can also include biometrics data such as fingerprints and facial recognition data, financial data such as bank or purchase information, and web data that links personal profiles to websites they may have visited. 

If a business or individual has any data on their system which is linked to a third-party addressable/identifiable entity, it could still be considered PII data and should be treated accordingly with secure and regular data destruction protocols.


In addition, healthcare medical records are another type of PII data that must also be destroyed properly. Medical records contain sensitive personal health information and themselves abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. Data collected through online activities like web browsing histories, especially for organizations responsible for collecting student data for educational institutions and government agencies, must ensure that it is kept secure and only accessed by authorized personnel.

Personally identifiable information needs to be destroyed securely and responsibly. Data destruction is the process of erasing data permanently from any storage device. 

In some cases, data destruction involves physical shredding of a hard drive but more technological solutions are emerging for digital data destruction such as degaussing and overwriting data with special software tools. 

Ultimately, when data containing personal information is no longer needed, it must be securely destroyed and disposed of in order to protect the privacy of individuals. 

Read More: How do you destroy PII?

Whether data is stored in physical or digital forms, data destruction is a critical step in making sure information is not accessed by persons who should not have it. In some cases, PII data destruction is legally required by privacy laws that enforce data protection, such as HIPAA, which governs data security for healthcare organizations as well as individuals.


Failure to properly dispose of data can lead to data breaches, data leakage, and identity theft. There have been cases where improper data destruction have remained in devices sold on Ebay to consumers. It is this very threat that businesses face when decommissioning electronic equipment containing PII data.

In using data destruction services and technology, organizations can quickly and easily destroy data to keep it out of the wrong hands. Data destruction helps reduce data storage costs, protect confidential data, meet data privacy compliance regulations, and lower the risk of data breach. 

Data destruction also plays a key role in compliance with data protection laws mentioned above, allowing companies to demonstrate their commitment to data security and privacy while minimizing risk. Additionally, data destruction can secure data from users who no longer need access, keeping their PII out of unauthorized hands. 

Understanding what constitutes PII data helps organizations develop security protocols and procedures that will keep this sensitive data secure at all times. By taking the necessary steps to protect PII within your organization, organizations not only help safeguard their customers’ personal information but also save themselves from potential legal issues due to breaches or misuse of customer data down the line. 

Read More: Protecting Electronic PII in Your Company

By properly disposing of data and securely destroying PII, organizations can protect sensitive data and help to create an efficient security posture. Data disposal services provide organizations with the resources to destroy data confidently, quickly, and securely – reducing the possibility of data loss or theft.

Editorial Team

The Tide Rock editorial team is a group of seasoned professionals with extensive expertise in electronics recycling. The team has worked closely with subject matter experts in personal identifying information mitigation, IT asset disposition, auditing and reporting, ensuring that all information is accurate and at the forefront of the industry. They specialize in catering to the unique electronic recycling needs of B2B businesses across various sectors, including financial services, healthcare, data centers, and legal. With a commitment to staying informed, the team consistently delivers top-notch insights and solutions for businesses seeking responsible and efficient electronics recycling practices.

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