I'm wondering whether there is a difference in meaning and/or use between personal details, personal data, and personal information. As far as I've been able to figure out from various google searches and checking various dictionaries, they seem to have pretty much exactly the same meaning, and I haven't been able to see a clear pattern as to what contexts they are used in.

My questions, then, are:

  1. Am I right that all three phrases mean the same thing, or is there a difference that I've missed?

  2. Am I right that all three can be used interchangeably in all contexts, or is there a pattern that I've missed as to the contexts in which they are used (so that each has their own context in which it is typically used)?

  • These are used in legal contexts. If you want the legal definitions, try Law
    – James K
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


Personal data has a specific legal meaning in the context of the GDPR

Personal data is any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual. Different pieces of information, which collected together can lead to the identification of a particular person, also constitute personal data. (source)

In law, personal information is a synonym of personal data.

Personal information, also called personal data, is any information that relates to a specific person. Some of the most obvious examples of personal information include someone's name, mailing address, email address, phone number, and medical records (if they can be used to identify the person). In addition, some privacy frameworks consider anything that can help determine someone's identity, such as online identifiers or Internet browsing history, to be personal information. (source)

"Personal details" are not used in the context of GDPR, but may relate to personal data that you use to identify yourself.

You need to update your personal details with HRMC if you change your name or address.

  • Excellent answer as always!
    – Helen
    Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 19:10

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