Data Protection in Camden - your rights

What is personal data?

Personal data is information that allows a living person to be identified from that information, or a combination of information that is held by the council. Examples of personal data are names and addresses, reference numbers and photographs. Personal data can also be information that allows people to be identified in a less direct way than their name or address. It can include social services’ case numbers such as MOSAIC references, or combinations of information the council holds, such as details of a complaint made about a neighbour combined with council tax information. The person has to be indefinable from the information, so for example information that just described a 50 year old male living on the Chalcots estate would not be personal data because it would not allow the exact  person to be identified. 

Personal data also includes ‘pseudonymised data’. This is where the council has taken out names and other identifiers and replaced them with a key (eg a number). As you cannot see who the information is about unless you have the key for the code, the information is partly anonymised, which is called pseudonymised. If it is easy to use the key to work out who the references apply to, then this information is considered to be personal data.  

‘Special Categories of Personal Data’

There is a sub-category of personal data which covers more sensitive information. This was called ‘sensitive personal data’ in the old Data Protection Act 1998. The council needs to comply with more safeguards when processing special personal data – see below.

Special category personal data is personal data that reveals:

  • racial or ethnic origin, 
  • political opinions, 
  • religious or philosophical beliefs, 
  • trade union membership, 
  • or is about their health, sex life or sexual orientation.  
  • It also includes their genetic and biometric data. Biometric data includes areas like thumb prints which some school use for students to pay for school meals. 
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