Sensitive Personal Data

Definition & Meaning:

Sensitive Personal Data refers to certain categories of personal information that are considered particularly sensitive or private and require special protection under data protection laws.

This includes data such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, health information, genetic data, biometric data, and data concerning a person’s sex life or sexual orientation.

Unlike general personal data, sensitive personal data carries a higher risk of harm or discrimination if disclosed or mishandled.

For example, sensitive personal data may include medical records, information about an individual’s religious beliefs or sexual orientation, or biometric data such as fingerprints or facial recognition data.

These types of data are considered highly private and require stringent safeguards to protect against unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

Under data protection regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States, organizations are required to implement strict measures to protect sensitive personal data from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

This may include implementing encryption, access controls, and data minimization practices, as well as obtaining explicit consent from individuals before collecting or processing sensitive personal data.

The collection and processing of sensitive personal data are subject to additional legal requirements and restrictions compared to general personal data.

For example, under the GDPR, processing sensitive personal data is prohibited unless certain conditions are met, such as obtaining explicit consent from the data subject or if processing is necessary for specific purposes such as healthcare or employment law obligations.

Due to the sensitive nature of this data, organizations must exercise caution and implement robust security measures to protect it from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

Failure to adequately protect sensitive personal data can result in severe legal and reputational consequences for organizations, including fines, lawsuits, and damage to their brand reputation.