Definition of Personal Data

The Swiss Federal Data Protection Act (DPA) defines personal data as "all information relating to an identified or identifiable person".

"Person" refers not only to a natural person (individual), but also to a legal entity. The legal form of the entity is not relevant. Accordingly, personal data under the DPA can mean data relating to individuals as well as to partnerships, corporations, associations, cooperatives or any other legal entity. The extension of protection for data relating to legal entities can create difficulties in the context of cross-border data transfers because few other countries provide adequate protection for data relating to legal entities.

A person is "identified" or "identifiable" if the information permits the identification of the person concerned. A person can be identifiable even if the data are stored in an anonymous form, e.g., under a code number, but separate information allows a link to be made between the code and the identity of the person. A person will be deemed not to be identifiable only if the information is anonymous and no link can be established between the anonymous information and the person concerned.