I had an interesting conversation with a parent the other day. A mom called our support desk with concerns about completing her son’s high school sports registration form through an online platform. “In this ‘Equifax’ age,” she said, she felt that a pen and paper registration process helped protect her son’s data and privacy “better than something online.”

I am still furious with Equifax. Even beyond the breach, Equifax’s approach to managing personal data exemplifies everything I oppose. They’ve collected my detailed and personal information without my permission and stored it in a way that I can’t access, update or correct. It’s the kind of treatment that can make you nostalgic for pen and paper.

But wait...

If I spend hours filling out a 12-page registration packet full of personal details about my son so that he can play hockey, what happens to that sensitive information once I turn the paperwork over to the school?

  • Is my son’s information isolated to a filing cabinet in a locked room?
  • In the event of an emergency, can the right people quickly get their hands on my paperwork (and hopefully read my writing)?
  • If my son’s emergency information changes, will I have an easy way to get those updates to the all the coaches, administrators and others who need to know?
  • Am I in control of my child’s information once I hand that paperwork over to the school?

No, not likely.

More likely, the information I’ve provided to a school has been reproduced many times over so school administrators and coaches can access my son’s information, if needed. I’d like to assume the school didn’t just take my paperwork and toss it in a cabinet, never to see the light of day. I’d like to assume that it’s someone’s job to take my paperwork and enter my son’s data into systems the school is using. I’m guessing it’s been photocopied and shared internally with school staff, typed into spreadsheets, uploaded into databases, displayed on rosters, transferred onto emergency cards and printed out for the nurses office who can then update their own software.

I’m hoping that this is happening or there’s no way that the detailed updates I provide can be useful to the school and protect the safety of my child. And I’m hoping that everyone can get to my most up-to-date information, not the years-old stuff that has changed at least 10 times since he first started school.

But I’ll never know because once I turn in that packet of paper, I’ve lost all visibility and control. Half the time I don’t even remember what I’ve turned in and what information I’ve provided.

So what’s the answer? Can technology serve us instead of the other way around? Yes, as long as the tools are built in a way that empowers us:

  • What if YOU were the definitive source of information about your family?
  • What if YOU had the ability to review the information you’ve shared and update it at any time?
  • What if YOU could use your saved information over and over to make your life easier?
  • What if YOU had the history of every registration you’ve submitted?
  • What if YOU had a direct relationship with the company that was storing your information?
  • What if YOU had a phone number to call and a human being to talk to if you had any questions?
  • What if YOU were the legally recognized owner of your data?

Yeah, that’s what I thought -- sounds fantastic!

At the end of the day, I can’t and don’t want to prevent my personal information from being accessible to the people who need it to run their programs, instruct my children and keep them safe.

What I want is access, knowledge and control.

And that’s why we created FamilyID. I’ve got all my information and registration history in one account that I access, manage and update at any time.

Knowledge really is power. And with FamilyID, it’s pretty darn convenient, too.