Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Personal Information Definition:

Information that identifies or describes an individual.

Related Terms: Privacy, Open Fields Doctrine, Publicity

In an increasing number of jurisdictions, the term personal information is defined by local statute, typically within the context of an attempt by the legislative assembly to protect individuals from careless storage or release of information in their regards.

In Security Industry and Financial, Justice Underhill of the United States District Court (Connecticut) wrote:

"[P]ersonal information, in the constitutional sense (due process), is information about an individual that, if widely known, would reasonably cause that individual embarrassment, discomfort, or concern."

In State v Reid, Justice Weissbard of the appeal division of the Superior Court of New Jersey adopted these words:

"Informational privacy has been variously defined as shorthand for the ability to control the acquisition or release of information about oneself ... or an individual's claim to control the terms under which personal information is acquired, disclosed, and used.

"In general, informational privacy encompasses any information that is identifiable to an individual. This includes both assigned information, such as a name, address, or social security number, and generated information, such as financial or credit card records, medical records, and phone logs...."

"[P]ersonal information will be defined as any information, no matter how trivial, that can be traced or linked to an identifiable individual."

In Bellevue, Justice Fairhurst of the Supreme Court of Washington wrote:

"[I]nformation relating to or affecting a particular individual, information associated with private concerns, or information that is not public or general constitutes personal information."

Most cases have held that a mere name is not personal information.1



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