Personal data

Learn what personal data is.

Definition of personal data

According to the French CNIL, personal data is any information relating to an identified or identifiable individual.

A natural person can be identified:

  • either directly (example: surname and first name)

  • or indirectly (example: telephone number, social security number, email or postal address, but also voice and image)

The identification of a natural person can be carried out:

  • from a single data (example: name)

  • from the cross-referencing of a set of data (example: a woman living at such an address, born on such a day and member of such an association)

However, the contact details of the company are not, in principle, personal data (example: generic email

Categories of personal data

Categories of personal data are groups of personal data by nature.

There are different types of personal data: identity, family, economic or financial situation, banking data, connection data, location data, etc:

  • Civil status, identity, identification data, images...

  • Personal life

  • Professional life

  • Economic and financial information

  • Connection data

  • Location data

  • Web data

  • Ethnic Origins

  • Political views

  • Religious Beliefs

  • Union membership

  • Genetic data

  • Biometric data

  • Health data

  • Sexual orientation

  • Data relating to offences, criminal convictions or security measures

  • Judicial files, criminal records

  • Other

  • National identification number (NIR)

Definition of sensitive data

Certain categories of data are said to be "sensitive". This is information that reveals:

  • the alleged racial or ethnic origin,

  • political opinions,

  • religious or philosophical beliefs,

  • membership in a union,

  • genetic data,

  • biometric data,

  • data reflecting the sexual orientation of an individual.

An example of sensitive data is fingerprints, which fall under the category "biometric data".

As a matter of principle, the processing of such data is prohibited, with some exceptions.

The EU Regulation prohibits the collection or use of such data, except, in particular, in the following cases:

  • if the person concerned has given his/her express consent (active, explicit and preferably written, which must be free, specific and informed);

  • if informations are clearly made public by the data subject;

  • if informations are necessary for the safeguard of human life;

  • if their use is justified by the public interest and authorized by the data authority;

  • if informations concern the members or adherents of an association or a political, religious, philosophical or trade union organization.

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