Geographical Information as 'Personal Information'

Posted: 10 Oct 2010

See all articles by Teresa Scassa

Teresa Scassa

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: August 8, 2010


The rapid proliferation of applications using geographical information combined with the growing accessibility of vast quantities of data of all kinds has given rise to a number of data protection challenges. Information is placed in geographic context by governments, private sector actors, and even by individuals; compilations of data may be sole-authored or crowd-sourced, and are frequently made available over the internet. This paper explores a key question in the data protection context: when is information placed in geographical context personal information? Particular challenges in answering this question include the way in which geographical information may be a key to re-identifying de-identified data, and how it can be used to link aggregate demographic data to specific individuals.

Keywords: data protection, privacy, personal information, geographic information

Suggested Citation

Scassa, Teresa, Geographical Information as 'Personal Information' (August 8, 2010). Available at SSRN:

Teresa Scassa (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
6135625800x3872 (Phone)
6135645124 (Fax)

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