Like the DPA, the GDPR applies to ‘personal data’. However, the GDPR’s definition is more detailed and makes it clear that information such as an online identifier – eg an IP address – can be personal data. The more expansive definition provides for a wide range of personal identifiers to constitute personal data, reflecting changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.
For most organisations, keeping HR records, customer lists, or contact details etc, the change to the definition should make little practical difference. You can assume that if you hold information that falls within the scope of the DPA, it will also fall within the scope of the GDPR.
The GDPR applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems where personal data are accessible according to specific criteria. This is wider than the DPA’s definition and could include chronologically ordered sets of manual records containing personal data.
Personal data that has been pseudonymised – eg key-coded – can fall within the scope of the GDPR depending on how difficult it is to attribute the pseudonym to a particular individual.
Sensitive personal data
The GDPR refers to sensitive personal data as “special categories of personal data” (see Article 9). These categories are broadly the same as those in the DPA, but there are some minor changes.
For example, the special categories specifically include genetic data, and biometric data where processed to uniquely identify an individual.
Personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences are not included, but similar extra safeguards apply to its processing (see Article 10).