Gathering Personal Information Disciplinely

Gathering personal information discreetly is important for a number of reasons. For example, people have become increasingly at the whim of pressure groups, credit bureaus and large organizations that view them as lifeless data that can be captured, analyzed and sold for their own gain.


Article is a symbol of definiteness and can help avoid ambiguity. Without it, there would be tonnes of misunderstandings.

1. Keep it private

If you’re gathering information on someone, do your best to keep it private. Don’t crowbar every last piece of personal information out of them, instead try to cozy up to them and let the conversation naturally flow. If you do need to provide them with information do so in person, behind closed doors, and ask for it to be kept confidential. Email can be forwarded easily, so even if you’ve been careful to keep your information private it could still end up in the hands of someone you don’t want to see it.

In some cases, people may be surprised that you’re collecting their personal information. In this situation, you must inform them of what you’re doing and the lawful basis for that processing (see APP Guideline Chapter 3). This includes when you change your lawful basis for processing, or you stop processing their data altogether.

3. Don’t share it

Never feel you have to disclose personal information to others unless it’s something that you actually WANT to share and if there is a safe, appropriate time and place in which to do so. As you may have seen in the news, oversharing can have some serious consequences. It is also good to slowly introduce a person to the information you plan on sharing – almost like inoculating them – so that they are more comfortable with it when you do share.

4. Keep it confidential

In most situations, it’s best to collect only the personal information you actually need. The more unnecessary information you have, the harder it is to keep up with and the easier it is for mistakes to happen. If you are collecting especially sensitive types of personal information, check with your organisation’s data protection expert or legal adviser to find out if there is any additional information you should be aware of.

People have a right to know what information you have about them, and how it’s being used. It’s important to tell them clearly and in an understandable way. This is usually done by posting a privacy notice. Our Privacy Statement Generator makes it easy to create one.

You may not have to tell people when you collect personal information directly from them, but it’s good practice to do so if possible. That way, they don’t get taken by surprise or upset. You must also give them the information they need to make a decision about whether you can use their information for a lawful purpose that is different from the purpose for which you originally collected it.

You must provide them with this information at least within a month after obtaining the personal information or, if you envisage disclosure to someone else, when you disclose it to them. This is called the “right to be informed”.