Individuals constantly provide their personally identifiable information (PII) as a prerequisite for services from health care providers to banks, credit agencies, educational institutions, employers and the like. But when it comes to employers, public and private, and the long forms for job applications requiring government clearances, candidate reluctance to disclose personal information might stymie employers’ ability to hire and retain employees, especially for sensitive positions that require background investigations.
A number of factors could hamper government hiring, said Iqbal Amiri, Ph.D., who recently spoke at an Americas Conference on Information Systems on digital disruption. The factors include perceived data security, trust, perceived leadership competency, information sensitivity, privacy concern and the anticipated reward that a potential job would play in exchange for disclosing one’s sensitive personal information online, Amiri said. His conference presentation was titled: “An Empirical Study on the Factors Contributing to Disclosing Personal Information Online: Insecurity in the Digital Age.”
His topic stemmed from his own experiences and concerns about data security and privacy, as he was directly affected by his share of data breaches, including Home Depot, Target, Equifax and the Office of Personnel Management hack in 2015 that compromised the personal information of more than 21 million people from the U.S. government and contracting firms.
“It’s happening so much now that people have become immune to it,” said Amiri, executive director at ManTech’s Mission Solutions & Services Group and co-chairman for the company’s Analytics Community of Practice. “How do we restore peoples’ confidence and trust in the networks and systems that we rely on to keep our data and identities safe from malicious theft and misuse?”
After researching the issue for 2 years as a federal contractor and Ph.D. Candidate, he aimed to answer one question: Are people hesitant to apply online for government jobs because they are reluctant to disclose their personal data on applications? Amiri based his findings on a quantitative study and an online survey to 700 recipients, aged 18 or older. His research netted 206 responses, which went through rigorous data cleaning and analysis to come to a conclusion.
Amiri’s research found that job seekers were willing to disclose information online if that information disclosure resulted in the reward of a job. Surprisingly, privacy concern was not a factor in the PII disclosure. Amiri mentioned that this research could be the first of its kind where privacy concern was not a factor when disclosing information contrary to most prior studies. In addition, he determined that the combination of leadership, website trust and job reward significantly influenced an individual’s willingness to disclose their personal information.
“In the age of digital disruption, people are trying to get to your data, but our goal should be more proactive than reactive, where we should be preventing it from happening in the first place,” Amiri said. “In the end, how one engages with information disclosure online, is a matter of multiple variables and trust.”
Iqbal Amiri, Ph.D., is the executive director and co-chairman of the Analytics Community of Practice for ManTech. He reports on topics including machine learning, big data, analytics and business intelligence. ManTech is the No. 1 provider of insider threat services to the U.S. government according to a Bloomberg Government report.