Types of personal data

Some data and information stored on a computer is personal and needs to be kept confidential. People want to keep their pay, bank details, and medical records private and away from the view of just anybody. If someone who is not entitled to see these details can obtain access without permission it is unauthorised access. The Data Protection Act sets up rules to prevent this happening.

Two types of personal data

Examples of sensitive and personal data such as religion and banking details

Personal data is about living people and could be:

  • their name
  • address
  • medical details or banking details

Sensitive personal data is also about living people, but it includes one or more details of a data subject's:

  • racial or ethnic origin
  • political opinions
  • religion
  • membership of a trade union
  • health
  • sex life
  • criminal activity

There are fewer safeguards for personal data than there are for sensitive personal data. In most cases a person must be asked specifically if sensitive data can be kept about them.