Signs are all around that the world of global mobility and relocation services are changing. One of the latest examples pointing to this is the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act recently passed in the U.S. Senate. This bill revises requirements regarding the public disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in the manifest of vessels or aircraft entering a U.S. port or place. Specifically, the bill directs the Department of the Treasury to remove such information, including Social Security numbers and passport numbers, from a manifest signed and transmitted to Treasury before it is accessible by the public.
This bill passed with bipartisan support and unanimous consent. Right after Senate passage in March 2023, the bill was introduced in the House, where it’s expected to pass quickly. The mobility industry was particularly interested in this bill because it will pave the way for essential protections regarding the data of transferees and military personnel.
Areas of Employee Relocation Programs that are Focal Points for Data Privacy
Allowing personal information to be sold or given away during a relocation can set transferees and military personnel up for fraud, identity theft, and other serious problems. Currently, the US Customs and Border Patrol sells the manifest data coming from vessel shipments to data brokerage firms.
This data is available online to subscribers that pay for access to it and use it to analyze shipping trends. The problem is not with the shipping information itself. Rather, the issue is that the personally identifying information of the goods’ owner is often included when the manifest is sold, and the data is uploaded.
This is a big focal point regarding data privacy concerns and one that many companies and agencies have been working to address for many years. With the Senate’s passage of the bill and its quick introduction in the House, the goal is to make sure anyone shipping goods as part of a government relocation or a corporate relocation can do so without having their personally identifying information compromised.
Safeguarding Information Through Technology
Secure technology is needed to make sure employee information is protected. While this includes databases kept by the companies themselves, it also includes suppliers, vendors, shippers, relocation management companies, and other providers that are entrusted with the personal information of employees.
It’s not advisable to write down employees’ social security numbers and home addresses and fax them to another company, for example. Even an open email can be a significant security risk. Sensitive data needs to be encrypted and thoroughly protected, and precautions should be taken to ensure it goes to the right place every time.
Tighter Contracts Reduce Risk
The contract between a company and a relocation provider is another area where an employee’s personal information is vulnerable. Confidentiality clauses are becoming much more common, and many companies won’t work with shippers who aren’t bonded. While these aren’t guarantees, they’re still important steps to reduce the risk of identity theft and similar problems.
These steps help reduce the risk to companies and to the employees who want to make sure their information stays safe. While it’s necessary to provide the level of detail required, companies want to be sure they’re working with trusted providers that will take great care in protecting personal data.
Training is the Best Practice for Security
Any employee information can be stolen if the wrong person gains access to it, but often the reason information falls into the wrong hands is a lack of proper training. In other words, someone with valid access to the data isn’t aware of how to handle the information correctly or keep it safe. Because of that, it’s transferred in a way that makes it easy for others to access.
Understanding what kind of information is collected and why is the first step. Additionally, an HR department providing employee information should investigate the risks of providing specific information and the safest way to transfer it. It’s not possible to avoid providing personal data when shipping goods for a relocation, but it is possible to reduce what data is provided and send it in the most secure way possible.
TRC Global Mobility Supports the Transferee Data Privacy Protection Bill
At TRC Global Mobility, we support this bill and what it offers to all parties involved with employee relocation. Our company is keenly aware of data privacy concerns as companies and HR professionals do their due diligence in protecting their employees. We are committed to making sure all provided data is protected and businesses and workers feel safe when they contract with us to assist with domestic and international relocations.