What is personal information?

Last updated: 28 October 2019

Personal information includes a broad range of information, or an opinion, that could identify an individual. What is personal information will vary, depending on whether a person can be identified or is reasonably identifiable in the circumstances.

For example, personal information may include:

  • an individual’s name, signature, address, phone number or date of birth
  • sensitive information
  • credit information
  • employee record information
  • photographs
  • internet protocol (IP) addresses
  • voice print and facial recognition biometrics (because they collect characteristics that make an individual’s voice or face unique)
  • location information from a mobile device (because it can reveal user activity patterns and habits)

The Privacy Act 1988 doesn’t cover the personal information of someone who has died.

What is sensitive information?

Sensitive information is personal information that includes information or an opinion about an individual’s:

  • racial or ethnic origin
  • political opinions or associations
  • religious or philosophical beliefs
  • trade union membership or associations
  • sexual orientation or practices
  • criminal record
  • health or genetic information
  • some aspects of biometric information

Generally, sensitive information has a higher level of privacy protection than other personal information.

For more information about personal information, see Australian Privacy Principles Guidelines, Chapter B

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