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What are personal data?

What are Personal Data?

As the term indicates, personal data are any information related to an identified or identifiable person. In article 1 (1)(2) of GDPR, the regulation sets rules on protecting natural persons concerning personal data processing and free movement. It also protects the rights and freedoms of persons, particularly their right to defend their data against unauthorized processing, loss or even destruction.

When we talk about personal data, we refer to any information related to a person. But what is precisely any information, and what does that imply? Personal data term is so broad it includes anything identifiable, ranging from:

  • name

  • phone number

  • email

  • shipping address

  • billing address

  • credit card

  • account data

  • number plate

  • appearance

Or one of several unique features that state a person's physical, physiological, genetic, mental, commercial, cultural, or social identity.  

Furthermore, in the European Court of Justice case law, recordings such as working hours, meaning the time employees start their working day and end it, including breaks, are considered personal data. Theoretically speaking, any information that can identify a user is deemed personal data. An IP address with information that might identify a user is also considered personal data. Likewise, the GDPR considers any opinion, decision, or appraisals as personal data, including others' evaluation or work performance of an employee.

Last but not least, any health records, genetic or biometric data are considered personal data, memberships, political affiliations, racial and ethnic origins, and religious or ideological beliefs. Needless to say, data protection does not apply to legal entities, corporations, foundations, and institutions as they are not considered natural persons.

Finally, any personal data is considered personal information related to an identified or identifiable living person. Nevertheless, a person acquires legal capacity at birth and loses it at death.

1 comment

Taranjeet Singh Community Leader Apr 04, 2022

@Andreas Springer _Actonic_ Thanks for sharing the detailed explanation of what is considered as personal data, especially with respect to GDPR rules in EU and EEA.


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