All posts tagged Sensitive Data

What Is Sensitive Data? Different Definitions in Privacy Law

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Sensitive Data Image 01

by Daniel J. Solove

I was corresponding with K. Royal the other day, as she was graciously providing some feedback on a training program I created, and we got to talking about sensitive data. In their privacy laws, many countries designate a special category of data called “sensitive data” that receives especially stringent protections.

The most common list of categories for sensitive data is the list in the EU Data Protection Directive, which includes data about “racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade-union memberships, health, and sex life.”

The US has no special category of “sensitive data” but US privacy law does protect certain forms of data more stringently (health, financial).

I find it interesting what various countries define as sensitive data, and K Royal has created an awesome chart that she shared with me:

Chart of Sensitive Data in Various Countries

To a privacy wonk like me, a chart like this makes me giddy with excitement, and so I thought I’d share it with you (with her permission, of course).

Here’s a tally of the various types of most-commonly recognized categories of sensitive data. This is based on a chart of the sensitive data category of many countries that K Royal created.

Sensitive Data Chart Word Tally 03

SPECIFIC COUNTRIES’ DEFINITIONS OF SENSITIVE DATA

You can access the full Excel spreadsheet of the data here.

Note: The entry for “standard” means the standard list from the EU Data Protection Directive. The categories encompassed by “standard” include the one beginning “national, Racial/Ethnic” through “sexual preferences and practices.”  More background about K’s project can be found at her blog.

If you want to see the spreadsheet data laid out in a blog post, you can see my longer post about the issue at my LinkedIn Blog.