personal data

personal data
data which relate to a living individual who can be identified from that data (or from those data and other information in possession of the data controller) and includes any expression of opinion about the individual and any indication of the intentions of the data controller or any other person in respect of that individual. Previously thought to be very wide in application, following the decision in Durant v FSA [2003] EWCA Civ 1746, the definition seems to refer to information that has the data subject as its focus and affects the individual's privacy in some way. Mere mention of someone's name in a document no longer comprises personal data, but personal details such as someone's address, contact details, salary etc would still fall within the scope of the Data Protection Act 1998.
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Broadly, information relating to an individual that can be used to identify, locate or contact that individual, alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information.
Examples of personal information include an individual's:
• Name.
• Home or other physical address.
• E-mail address.
• Telephone number.
• Social Security number.
• Passport number.
• Driver's license number.
• Bank account number.
• Credit or debit card number.
• Personal characteristics, including photographic image, fingerprints, handwriting or other unique biometric data.
For US federal and state privacy and data security laws, the precise definition of personal information varies depending on the specific jurisdiction and law, and may be more narrowly defined.
For more information, see Practice Note, US Privacy and Data Security Law: Overview (
European Union data protection laws use the similar term personal data. Under the EU Data Protection Directive, personal data is any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (referred to as a data subject). An identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity (Directive 95/46/EC, Art. 2(a)).
Because each EU member state has separately implemented the Directive's requirements into its national data protection legislation, the definition of personal data adopted by particular EU member state may be different from Directive's definition.

Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. . 2010.

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