What is Personal Data?

Personal Data: 'Personal information' is defined broadly in POPIA to include information relating to both an identifiable, living, natural person, and where applicable, an identifiable juristic person or legal entity, and includes:

  • information about a person's race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, national, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental health, wellbeing, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, and birth;
  • information relating to the education, medical, financial, criminal, or employment history of the person;
  • any identifying number, symbol, email address, physical address, telephone number, location information, online identifier, or other particular assignment to the person;
  • the biometric information of the person;
  • the personal opinions, views, or preferences of the person;
  • correspondence sent by the person that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature or further correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence;
  • the views or opinions of another individual about the person; and
  • the name of the person if it appears with other personal information relating to the person or if the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the person.

Sensitive Data: POPIA provides for a separate category of information called 'special personal information' which includes all information relating to a person's religious or philosophical beliefs, race or ethnic origin, trade union membership, political persuasion, health or sex life, biometric information or criminal behaviour. POPIA also specifically regulates personal information (of a child).