CEO’s Message: PII is the New Business Challenge for Us All

Jim Harrison: MLSListings Inc CEO and President

Jim Harrison
President and CEO, MLSListings

No matter what the business or organization, we are all facing a new level of responsibility in protecting the personally identifiable information, (PII) that we gather, hold, and allow access to in the name of doing business.

But first; what is PII? To put it simply, it is all information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, locate or contact a single person or individual. In other words, nearly everything about clients, colleagues, patients, customers, with whom we conduct transactions. Those transactions most often involve information that can identify them.  PII while predominately delivered by technology, is not a technology concept, it is a legal one of the responsibility and obligation to provide data security.

Unfortunately, if it falls into the wrong hands, personal information could cripple an individual or a business. For that reason, various laws are addressing the issue and creating requirements for protection.

It can be mind-numbing to list all the personal information you have received as you conduct real estate transactions. Social security numbers, names, addresses, credit card numbers, birth dates—-and this is a short list!

What Do We Do?

At MLSListings we are taking the cyber risk environment seriously. I have assembled a team to review the recommended steps, which include identifying PII. We are also working with vendors and other data customers to update our contracts with them to strengthen our requirements in managing customer PII.  Simultaneously, we are making privacy a priority for all the legal requirements.  And we are asking the vendors you use for proof of compliance with these new laws.  We enjoy the fruits of technology, but only when applied safely and securely. I encourage you to work with your teams, as well. Remember, privacy compliance is a marathon, not a sprint. Privacy laws change on a weekly basis and it is important to identify the laws that apply to your business, and to remain up to date on changes. The fines for non-compliance can be heavy!

PII is not easy, but it is a critical responsibility and the smart business thing to do. It’s worth the effort in this new landscape of new challenges.




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