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CPA Membership and Data Security
By Brian Garrett
Posted: 2021-05-31T22:08:00Z

While this conversation isn’t very sexy or aviation related, it is something the CPA as an organization continues to have discussions about. I want to share some insights of the areas we discuss concerning data security.  This article isn’t meant to scare anyone, but to educate on what options we have as members and the actions the Board takes to keep our data safe.   


At the very heart of the CPA is our members and the community we form around our shared interest in aviation.  Over the past several years the CPA has evolved to having a greater online/web presence.  We have an electronic membership directory available to all paid members where you can see other member names and potentially home airport and plane type.  In addition, there is a hardcopy directory published roughly once every year that contains the same information.  Once logged in, the CPA Membership directory is found under the “CPA Member Benefits” menu and selecting “CPA Member Directory.”  This information is accessible only when logged in and is secured behind the membership “paywall.”


I’ve been a CPA member for the better part of my flying time and to the best of my knowledge there never has been an abuse or breach of the membership data.  This is a good thing, and we continue to work to keep it this way, but we can always do better.


As part of our community, we share certain information which include many of the mandatory fields such as First and Last names, primary addresses, one phone number and an email address.  Additionally, during the registration process there are questions where you choose to provide about the type of airplane you fly or own.  This information as an asset to our members and you should only put in as much information as you are comfortable in sharing.  Of course, the more information provided, the more valuable your profile is to other members in our community.  Want to know who may live around you to go for a flight?  You can find that out on the website, along with the owner’s information and contact them using this information.  


Sadly, the same information in the wrong hands could lead to other issues, which is why we are having this discussion.


There are two different paths for personal data to be acquired by an external person:

  • Through our website
  • Through our printed directory


The website information can only be accessed by the active membership and log in information.  It is important to keep password information private.  If you are having trouble with your password, please let us know and we can reset it.  It is the CPA policy that we do not have knowledge of or access to your password, therefore our only option is a reset of a password.  This is how most websites function.


Additionally, if you were to use the membership directory search tool you can only see information for one person at a time, and only the information the member provided.


The second way someone outside the organization could be exposed to membership data is through the printed directory, i.e. Annual Roster. Many of us grew up with our family name and phone number published in an area phone book, a close analogy to the printed Roster.  Once again, the only information provided in your membership profile will be in the printed directory.  There are a great many members of the CPA who rely on the printed directory; therefore, the Board is looking to better understand the interest in the printed edition.  


The printed directory has two pieces to consider. 

1. Personal member data, and 

2. cost to produce and mail


The concern isn’t so much as the Roster in the hands of our members, but it is how the Roster is protected and disposed of, such as shredding it.  Tossing it in the trash can easily be picked up by someone and reused for other purposes.  Chances for this to happen are not high, but it can and does happen.


The second item is regarding the printed roster is the cost to produce and mail.  When a new member joins the CPA, a roster is mailed to them at approximately a quarter of the membership fee.  After that, all members are on the same annual cycle to receive a roster.  


The question the Board struggles with isn’t so much as about data security but is there a continued interest in the printed Roster. Even a few members who don’t use or want the paper directory saves the organization money which can be repurposed into other areas such as scholarships.  

To select let us know if you are interested in having your personal information in the CPA Printed Directory and if you are interested in receiving a printed copy of the directory, please see the Printed Directory Survey 


Have any questions or other suggestions?  Please let us know…

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