What is personal data and what are the main terms I need to know? #GDPR

Key aspects of the GDPR to understand are:

Personal data – includes any information relating to a person (the data subject) who can be identified directly or indirectly (for example, by a CHI number).

The GDPR applies to the processing of personal data (which may be by automated means) which forms part of a filing system or is intended to form a part of a filing system.

A filing system means anywhere you store data – this could be on paper or electronic in nature. So, a pharmacy company’s main filing system for patients will be its PMR, which may be in each pharmacy or one system spread across many pharmacies.

Processing is any action related to personal data – right from collecting and storing to analysing and passing on to someone else.

The controller of the personal data makes decisions about what data is used, the purposes for using data and how processing of personal data is undertaken. There can be joint controllers for certain purposes. The pharmacy company is a controller, processing personal data.

A processor is somebody external to the pharmacy who processes personal data on your behalf, who you instruct exactly how to process the personal data. One example might be a payroll processing company.

The meaning of personal data is now broader and includes data from which people can be identified indirectly. This means that if the information you process can be matched at a later stage with other information (that you hold or somebody else holds) to identify a natural person, it is personal data even though you cannot see to whom it relates. The GDPR refers to this data as pseudonymised data – personal data that can no longer be linked to a person without the use of additional information. Pseudonymisation of personal data is encouraged in appropriate circumstances where those processing some of the data do not to see all of it, for example, removing patient details for pharmacy accounting purposes.

View our GDPR page for more information