Data PrivacyWhat is Personal Data?

August 15, 20230

What is Personal data?

As per Section 2(t) under the Digital Personal data Protection Act, 2023 “personal data” means any data about an individual who is identifiable by or in relation to such data;

In other words, personal data can be summarized as under;

1. Any data which is about an individual

2. Any data which identifies an individual

3. Any data through which an individual is identifiable

4. Any Data through which an individual can be identified in or in relation to such data.


Whereas, Data is defined under Section 2(h) as “data” means a representation of information, facts, concepts, opinions or instructions in a manner suitable for communication, interpretation or processing by human beings or by automated means;

How an individual is identified or Identifiable?

An individual is said to be ‘identified’ or ‘identifiable’ if he/she can be distinguished from other individuals. Hence, any data that can either be directly or indirectly used to identify an individual can be considered to be falling under the ambit of personal data.

Further, it is interesting to note that any Information that can identify individuals are called identifiers.

Examples of Identifiers

Direct Identifiers– Name, e-mail address or Aadhaar number can directly distinguish an individual from the rest.

Indirect Identifiers – Age, gender and zip code can indirectly identify an individual

Some identifiers can be online – Information pertaining to applications, protocols, tools and devices used by an individual like IP addresses, MAC addresses, cookies, pixel tags, account handles, device, fingerprints, etc.

Specific Examples of Personal Data

The Data if relate to an individual, the following data will be considered personal data:

• Name, date of birth

• Postal address, phone number,

• e-mail address, IP address

• Password, fingerprint, retinal print

• Aadhaar number, Permanent Account Number (PAN)

• Photos, video, sound recording

• Bank account details,

• Vehicle registration number

• CCTV footage identifying a person’s face

Finally, Section 2 (v) of Information Technology Act,2 000 defines “information” to include data, text, images, sound, voice, codes, computer programmes, software and databases or micro film or computer generated micro fiche.

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