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The Definition Of Personal Information Under The CCPA

Paige Harris Mar 11, 2022 8:00:00 AM

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018 gives consumers residing in California more control over their data by requiring organizations they do business with to disclose the type of personal information they collect and how they intend to use it. 

California residents also enjoy the CCPA right to deletion. This right forces organizations to delete their clients' information upon receiving and verifying a request. But what exactly is personal data under the CCPA? This article will answer this and other related concerns.

Click here if you’d like to know more about the CCPA compliance checklist


What Is Personal Information?

Understanding what the law says about personal information is one of the main factors to consider when handling data electronically. Under the CCPA, personal information is any data you can use to identify or describe a consumer. 

The act further defines personal data as any information that relates, associates, or directly or indirectly links to a consumer. Personal information falls into various categories, including the following:

  • Identifiers: details such as real name, aliases, postal addresses, IP addresses, online identifiers, account names, emails, social security numbers, passport numbers, driver’s license numbers, etc. These are unique personal identifiers linked to the consumer.
  • Records: signatures, physical characteristics, insurance policy documents, identification cards, bank account records, employment records, education certificates, credit cards, debit cards, medical records, etc. Some of these consumer records contain private and sensitive information.
  • Features of protected classifications: details about a consumer’s race, nationality, religion, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender, physical and mental disability, medical condition, marital status, military status, genetic information, etc. Most of these characteristics are protected under California and federal laws.
  • Commercial records: private property and purchasing history.
  • Biometrics: fingerprints, DNA matching, iris recognition, voice recognition, hand geometry recognition, face recognition, etc.
  • Internet activity data: browsing history, search history and interactions with certain websites, advertisements, applications, etc.
  • Consumer profile: inferences that describe a consumer, including personal preferences, psychological trends, predispositions, behaviors, intelligence, aptitudes, physical characteristics and attitudes.

However, not all details about a consumer are considered personal information under the CCPA. For example, the above definition excludes the following: 

  • Publicly available data or information readily available from local, state and federal government records.
  • Fictitious names, de-identified data (e.g. pseudonyms) and aggregated or de-identified information that don't practically link to the consumer.    

These distinctions are necessary because it helps you determine which personal data requests deserve your attention and which don’t. It’s also essential when you are going through the CCPA compliance checklist to understand which type of personal information you are dealing with and how to handle it. Once you know the different categories of personal information, you can design an effective process that will help to address CCPA compliance requirements.CTA CCPA Compliance Graphic

Final Thoughts

Your CCPA compliance depends on the reason you handle personal information. With the correct CCPA foundation, you will provide compliant access to personal data and prompt responses to individual data requests from your customers to avoid penalties. And as customers recognize your respect for their privacy, they will be more inclined to do business with you.

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