Personal data vs. sensitive data

We’ve been putting privacy legislation under a microscope and defining some key terms. Read on to find out the difference between personal data and sensitive data.

Personal data vs. sensitive data

Data is the word on every publisher’s mind this year. The deprecation of third-party cookies is bringing new methods of collection and tracking into the limelight. The means of collecting the data matters more than ever, as publishers adapt to the new frontier of web browsing and sharing. But what’s the difference between personal data and sensitive data?

When defining data, content is key. Data pertaining to users can be separated into personal data and sensitive data, with one falling under much more legislative protection than the other. We’ll define the differences so you know what to do to protect your users’ data in compliance with new privacy laws.

Personal data

Personal data is a less protected form when compared to sensitive data, but it’s still data that could be used to identify a user. A segment of the data on its own may not be necessarily identifying of a specific individual, but pieced together, it can create a pretty clear picture of who a user is.

The definition of personal data can differ between states or countries, but some widely accepted examples of personal data can be names, addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, email addresses, card numbers (this can be driver’s licenses or bank cards), and location information.

Sensitive data

All sensitive data is personal data, but not all personal data falls under the category of sensitive data. Sensitive data’s definition changes depending on the legislation. Health and biometrics information is universally acknowledged as sensitive data, and has legislation that protects it at a higher level.

Some examples of this (again, dependent on the particular legislation) can include political affiliations, sexual identity, racial or ethnic origins, and religious affiliations. A few states in the USA have also stipulated that data that can identify a victim of crimes, is sensitive data.

If you want to stay on top of the privacy legislation coming into action in 2024, why not download our free eBook? It’s got a comprehensive look at the different laws being enacted, enforced, or ratified over the next year. For more advice about running a website, creating a community, or diversifying your revenue, make sure to check out our blog each week for new articles.