Personal Data Protection: A Comprehensive Approach to Identifiable Information

Personal data encompasses any information related to a living person that can be identified, either directly or indirectly. This category of data is vast and complex, including everything from seemingly trivial details to those that, when combined, reveal the unique identity of an individual. The European Commission has led efforts in defining and regulating these data, emphasizing the critical need to protect the privacy and identity of each citizen.

Difference Between Personal Data and Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Although often used interchangeably, the terms Personal Data and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) are not exactly synonymous. Both concepts refer to the spectrum of information that can reveal, directly or indirectly, a person’s identity. However, PII is more commonly used in the United States, while the broader concept of personal data is primarily adopted by regulations in the European Union, such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Classification of Personal Data

Basic Identification Data

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Phone Number
  • Residential Address

These are the basic pillars for recognizing a person in various social and legal contexts.

Professional Information

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Employment History
  • Performance Evaluations

These data outline an individual’s professional profile and are essential for understanding their capabilities and career path.

Identity Documents

  • National Identity Card Numbers
  • Passports
  • Driver’s Licenses

These are key for official identity verification across different administrative systems.

Financial Information

  • Credit Card Numbers
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Records at Governmental or Financial Institutions

These data are highly sensitive due to their potential use in fraud and other illicit activities.

Medical and Biometric Data

  • Medical Histories
  • Biometric Data such as Fingerprints and Facial Recognition

They allow for precise identification and carry significant privacy and security implications.

Personal Preferences and Opinions

  • Political Opinions
  • Religious Beliefs

These reflect deep aspects of a person’s identity and personality.

Data Associated with Digital Devices

Online Contact and Identification

  • Email Addresses
  • Phone Numbers

Serve as basic identifiers in the digital world.

Location and Online Activity Data

  • IP Addresses
  • Cookie Identifiers
  • Details of Online Financial or Commercial Transactions

Provide detailed information about users’ preferences and activities on the internet.

Unique Device Identifiers

  • Phone Advertising Identifiers
  • Processor Serial Numbers

These are crucial for tracking and profiling devices and, by extension, their users.


Proper protection of personal data is essential for maintaining privacy and security in an increasingly digitalized world. Organizations must understand the responsibilities associated with handling these data and adopt policies and practices that respect individual rights and current regulations. This task is fundamental to building a secure and trustworthy digital society where individual privacy is a priority.