The categorization of information
Information can be further classified and categorized depending on the sensitivity. As an example, in today’s world, mobile phones have also become information repositories. Everyone’s mobile phone has a large amount of information that they have stored intentionally or unintentionally. Nowadays, information can be in different forms, not just text or numbers. It can be in the form of documents, images, videos, and so on. Some information is stored by users on their mobile phones intentionally. Users of mobile phones are aware that this information is stored. But there is also another set of information stored in phones without users’ knowledge.
People often confuse personal and sensitive information. Collecting, storing, using, or disclosing sensitive information is protected under different lawsuits around the world. A famous one is GDPR, passed by the European Union in 2016 and enforced in May 2018. These legal concerns are very strict on sensitive information. The reason behind this is disclosing sensitive information can have an irreversible effect on someone’s life. Let’s look at the difference between personal information and sensitive information:
- Personal information: Personal information refers to any information about an individual or a person that makes them distinguishable or identifiable. Under the law, even if the information given is not accurate, it is still considered personal information.
Personal information includes an individual’s name, address, contact information, date of birth, email address, and bank information.
- Sensitive information: Unlike personal information, sensitive information has a direct impact on the individual if disclosed. Sensitive information is a subcategory of personal information in a broader sense. Sensitive information may have a direct impact on or harm an individual if it is not handled properly.
Sensitive information includes an individual’s criminal record, health records, biometric information, sexual orientation, or membership in a trade union. If disclosed, the result may be discrimination, harassment, or monetary loss for the person to whom the sensitive information pertains.
If you look at the aforementioned information, what we need to understand is most Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is not confidential to our close relations and friends. Also, nowadays, our close circles have expanded to the global level with social media. Most social media users overexpose their own or other people’s personal information, either intentionally or unintentionally.