Q&As

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

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Published on LexisPSL on 03/05/2016

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

  • What is sensitive personal data for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998?
  • Personal data
  • Sensitive personal data
  • General Data Protection Regulation

Personal data

Under section 1 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. The definition 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 concerned.

An individual who is the subject of personal data (as defined above) is referred to the ‘data subject’. See Practice Note: Key definitions under the DPA 1998.

For related reading on personal data, see also:

  1. Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) guidance:

    1. What is personal data - A quick reference guide

    2. Determining what is personal data

Sensitive personal data

‘Sensitive personal data’ is defined

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