What is the difference between personal data and privacy-sensitive information?

The GDPR is a hot topic. Due to all messages in the media, many myths circulate about this topic. A frequently-heard comment is: but it is related to privacy, and so it is forbidden under the GDPR anyway, right? To understand correctly what the law requires and what are the reasons for that, you should know what personal data are and how this differs from privacy-sensitive information. We will explain this to you in this blog.

The GDPR is about personal data - What are they?

According to the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act of 2016, personal data means ‘any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person’. This means that the information is directly about a person, or can be traced back to this person. Think of a person’s name, (email) address, telephone number, passport photo or fingerprints. It must be information of a natural person, so information about deceased persons or organisations does not count as personal data.
There are special personal data as well. These are data that are particularly sensitive, processing them can seriously affect someone’s privacy. These data are additionally protected by law. Examples of this are data regarding someone’s health, race, religion, criminal record, sexual life or membership of a trade union. The Citizen Service Number is a special personal data as well, since it is a unique number that can be traced back to a person.

What about privacy - Which data are considered privacy-sensitive?

But what are privacy-sensitive data? These can be personal data, but there are many more types of information that are considered privacy-sensitive. For example, information on organisations. This information is not about an identifiable natural person, but it is valuable indeed, and you do not want to share it with the whole world. After all, privacy is about ‘deciding yourself who will get which information about you’. And what about sales records or take-over plans: when they fall into the wrong hands, this can be damaging to a company. Even something as simple as a confirmation of a hospital appointment need not be seen by everyone. So you must be very careful with both personal data and privacy-sensitive data.

Privacy and the GDPR - It is all about awareness

The GDPR only deals with personal data. Organisation are now compelled to protect these data demonstrably well and to have control over the protection. However, this does not mean that organisations should solely focus on the protection of personal data. The GDPR has precisely been prepared to raise awareness concerning sensitive data. A lot of information that is not categorised as personal data, should not fall into strange hands either, and therefore must be handled with care. It is crucial that the organisation’s employees have a broad sense of privacy awareness. Do they know the difference between personal data and privacy-sensitive data, and can they recognise such data? Do they know how to protect these data best? Our e-book gives you tips on how to help your employees become aware of safe data-processing.

Download the ebook


Secure your communications with ZIVVER’s new self-service feature

Securing email can be crossed off the company to-do list in less time than it will take to read this blog post, thanks to ZIVVER’s new self-service feature for small and medium-sized businesses […]

Read more

Security awareness in perpetuity

To protect against cyber security threats, every organization should view their workforce as the first line of defense. After all, many security incidents are caused by human errors, such as becoming a victim of a phishing attack, sharing sensitive information with the wrong recipient, or accidently installing a virus on a shared drive. No matter how many […]

Read more
The_advantages_of_Email_vs_Fax and_Snail_Mail_zivver_blog_en

The Advantages of Email vs. Fax and Snail Mail

Before email came into popularity, fax transmissions presented the only way to send written communication quickly. They could provide paper printouts in a few short minutes over hundreds of thousands of kilometers. Nowadays, email has become the preferred method of communication. Consequently, most companies have entirely abandoned fax machines. […]

Read more
Data_Breach_vs. Data_leak_explained_zivve_blog_en

Data breach vs. Data leak explained

You probably remember when Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg testified before the American Congress and UK lawmakers regarding the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal. The political consulting firm harvested raw data from 87 million Facebook profiles while working for Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. You might also recall the massive data breach […]

Read more
Encryption for Beginners_locks_ZIVVER_email

Encryption for Beginners 1: (A)symmetric encryption

Most people don't realize how easily an email can be sent to the wrong recipient. A typo in the address, a mistake in the configuration of a server, the wrong name selected from the automatic address book: they are all simple and common mistakes. In addition to the human error element, there is always a risk that hackers could compromise the mail server of a provider […]

Read more

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Email and File Transfer Security

When people think about email security, they typically associate it with widely reported hacking incidents, often nefarious in nature. These breaches tend to be higher in profile for a multitude of reasons, but actually account for a lower percentage of data breaches overall. For many organizations, the biggest threat to protecting privacy-sensitive data simply comes […]

Read more