What is sensitive personal data and can I block it from Google?

Judith Thompson  27-07-2021

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, personal data, is any data relating to a living individual who can be identified from that data or from the data and any other information which is likely to come under the possession of the data controller, and includes any expression of opinion about the individual by the data controller. This is different from the definition of personal data under the General Data Protection Regulations, which is any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person. This is clearly a simpler and far wider definition.

“Sensitive” personal data relates to specific types of data about an individual, relating to:

  • Their racial or ethnic origin;
  • Their political opinions;
  • Their religious beliefs;
  • Whether or not they are a member of a trade union;
  • Their physical or mental health;
  • Their sexual life;
  • Whether they have committed any offence; or
  • Details of any criminal proceedings against them, including any sentencing.

It also includes genetic data and bio metric data relating to individuals.

If any information appears about you in an online search, which relates to your sensitive personal data, assuming that you have not given your explicit consent for the data to be published, and assuming that it is not necessary (for example for carrying out your employment, or in the public interest) it should be possible to persuade the search engines to remove results from a search of your name which contains this information. The mechanism for achieving this is through the right to be forgotten.

In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office oversees right to be forgotten applications which are made to internet search engines, including Google, and the ICO will hear appeals where Google has refused applications. One of the ICO’s delisting criteria, is whether the search result in question contains sensitive personal data, and so it is always important to identify this at the outset.

If you believe that any of your sensitive personal data is available online, and you wish for it to be blocked, we will be able to assist you with drafting and submitting an application to Google for the right to be forgotten, for fixed fee which we will agree with you in advance of any work being carried out.

Contact us today to find out how we can help.

embarrassment at search results right to be forgotten