Q&As

What is 'personal data' for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998?

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Published on LexisPSL on 23/05/2016

The following Information Law Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is 'personal data' for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998?

For the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998), 'personal data' is defined as:

'data which relate to a living individual who can be identified—

(a)     from those data, or

(b)     from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the 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 the individual'

This definition refers to several key terms which are further defined in DPA 1998.

The term 'data' is defined to include information which:

'(a)     is being processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose

(b)     is recorded with the intention that it should be processed by means of such equipment

(c)     is recorded as part of a "relevant filing system" or with the intention that it should form part of a relevant filing system,…

(d)     does not fall within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) but forms part of an "accessible record" as defined by section 68; or

(e)     is recorded information held by a public authority and (as defined in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002) and does not fall within any of paragraphs (a) to (d)'

The term '

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