Personal data

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Personal data is information about a specific or identifiable person .

The term comes from data protection law . However, the data protection laws of the German-speaking countries define the term differently. In Germany, only the data of a natural person fall under the legal definition, while in Switzerland , Austria , Luxembourg and Denmark , for example , the data of legal persons are also included in the scope of protection of the relevant laws.


The term data is understood in the sense of individual details or individual information (see also microdata ). It is not identical to the concept of data in information technology , but is identical to the data record in data processing .

Personal reference

Data are personal if they are clearly assigned to a specific natural person or if this assignment can be made at least indirectly. In the second case, one also speaks of personal data.

The characteristic of a natural person does not apply simply because the person is acting as an entrepreneur (e.g. sole proprietorship).

Examples of personal data:

In the first example, the entry has blue eyes is assigned to the person John Doe. The indication has blue eyes becomes personal information. (As a rule, the entire information Klaus Mustermann has blue eyes. Is regarded as personal information.)

In the second example , a VW Golf has the personal information. Personal data do not necessarily have to be a physical characteristic of the person. A relationship between the person and a thing, another person, an event, a state of affairs is sufficient.

In the third example, the person to whom the statement of native Cologne residents refers is not named. However, it can be determined because it is generally known that Konrad Adenauer was the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Data that can be used to establish a personal reference are also to be regarded as personal data (example: vehicle registration number , account number , pension insurance number , matriculation number , answers to examination papers), even if the allocation information is not generally known. The only decisive factor is that the data can be assigned to a specific person with a reasonable amount of effort.

Legal Definitions


The German federal law defined in § 46 para. 1 Federal Data Protection Act (Act), personal data as "any information concerning the personal or material circumstances of an identified or identifiable natural person ". The corresponding state legal definitions have the same or a similar wording.

The principle applicable in Germany that only the data of natural persons fall under the legal definition is v. a. by the administrative court found jurisdiction quite questioned and even softened by increasingly on companies , the provisions of data protection laws are applied. The Wiesbaden Administrative Court ruled that data protection requirements “also apply to legal persons as long as there is a fundamentally guaranteed right to informational self-determination according to Article 14 of the Basic Law . On February 27, 2009 the Wiesbaden Administrative Court confirmed its case law. However, the decision of the Wiesbaden Administrative Court has no direct relevance for the entire Federal Republic.

According to Section 46 (14) BDSG and Section 48 (1) BDSG, “special types of personal data” are particularly in need of protection . This includes health data, information about racial or ethnic origin, political, religious, trade union or sexual orientation. Their processing is tied to stricter conditions than the processing of other personal data.


In Austria , the term is understood to mean all “information about data subjects whose identity has been determined or can be determined” (Section 4 no. 1 of the Federal Act on the Protection of Personal Data, Data Protection Act 2000). The “data subjects” include not only natural persons - that is, people - but also legal persons and communities of persons. This is an essential difference to the law of the Federal Republic of Germany and the European Union and to the definition used here, which is based on German law.


The law of Switzerland uses the term instead of the concept of personal data personal data . This is understood to mean "all information that relates to a specific or identifiable person" (Art. 3 let. A of the Federal Act on Data Protection). As in Austria, this definition also includes the data of legal persons.

European Union

The Directive 95/46 / EC (Data Protection Directive) defines the concept of personal data to the Member States of the European Union in Article 2 lit. a as

"All information about a specific or identifiable natural person (" data subject "); a person who can be identified directly or indirectly, in particular by assignment to an identification number or to one or more specific elements that express his or her physical, physiological, psychological, economic, cultural or social identity is regarded as identifiable.

and according to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation) Article 4 Paragraph 1:

"All information that relates to an identified or identifiable natural person (hereinafter" data subject "); A natural person is regarded as identifiable who, directly or indirectly, in particular by means of assignment to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or one or more special features that express the physical, physiological, genetic, psychological, economic, cultural or social identity of this natural person can be identified ”.

Related terms

Personal data

Personal data are personal data of an employee that is stored and used by his employer as part of the employment relationship. This includes all information that the employer needs to fulfill his legal and contractual obligations, for example the name and address of the employee, the amount of the salary and tax class. In addition, as a rule, additional information is also stored that may be of importance for the employment relationship, for example information about the training and qualifications of the employee or his professional career. Personal data that is recorded on paper is kept in special files, the personal files .

In companies with a large number of employees, personnel data are usually managed with the help of so-called personnel information or personnel management systems. This electronic personal data processing enables the employer to some extent extensive evaluation and control options. Their introduction and use are therefore subject to the codetermination of the works council .

Social data

Social data is personal data that is used by a social service provider or an equivalent institution within the scope of his or her legal duties. Social data include:

  • Objective data of the person concerned such as pension insurance number , health insurance number , address, number of children, behavior, education, etc.,
  • Opinions and evaluations of the person concerned, which he expresses in applications and in correspondence with the social security provider and which relate to himself or a third party,
  • Opinions and evaluations of third parties about the person concerned, as recorded, for example, in reports, memos, diagnoses and prognoses.

Social data are subject to social secrecy . Dealing with them is regulated in the Social Security Code  - in particular in Section 35 of the First Book of the Social Code (SGB I) and in the second chapter of Book 10 of the Social Code (SGB X).

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Malte Kröger: Data protection and examination law - what the Nowak judgment means for the examination system . In: Young Science in Public Law eV January 25, 2018 ( [accessed January 29, 2018]).
  2. ^ VG Wiesbaden decision of January 18, 2008, Az 6 E 1559/06.
  3. ^ VG Wiesbaden, decision of February 27, 2009, Az. 6 K 1045 / 08.WI.
  4. ^ According to: Heinz-Gert Papenheim, Joachim Baltes , Burkhard Tiemann: Administrative law for social practice. 19th, revised edition. Law for social practice, Frechen 2006, ISBN 3-935793-04-9 , p. 205.