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Data Subject

Definition of Data Subject

A data subject is any individual whose personal data is collected, held, or processed by an organization. This term is widely used in data protection and privacy legislation, signifying an individual who can be identified, directly or indirectly, by reference to personal data. Personal data, in this context, refers to any information related to the data subject, such as name, identification number, location data, or factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural, or social identity of that individual.

Origin of Data Subject

The concept of the data subject has its roots in the evolution of data protection laws, which began to take shape in the late 20th century. As information technology advanced and the collection and use of personal data by organizations increased, the need to define and protect the rights of individuals whose data was being used became evident. This led to the establishment of legal frameworks focusing on the protection of personal data and the rights of data subjects.

Practical Application of Data Subject

A practical application of data subject rights is found in consumer rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union. Under GDPR, data subjects have several rights regarding their personal data, including the right to access, the right to be forgotten, and the right to data portability. This means individuals can request to see the personal data an organization holds about them, ask for their data to be deleted, or have their data transferred to another service provider.

Benefits of Data Subject

Recognizing the concept of the data subject has numerous benefits. For individuals, it ensures greater control and transparency over their personal data, enhancing privacy protection. For organizations, clear understanding and respect for data subject rights can lead to increased trust and loyalty from customers. Furthermore, compliance with data subject rights is a legal requirement in many jurisdictions, helping organizations avoid hefty fines and legal challenges.


Businesses must ensure they handle personal data in compliance with data protection regulations, which involves respecting the rights of data subjects, securing their data, and using it in a lawful manner.

Yes, under certain data protection laws like GDPR, a data subject has the right to request the deletion of their personal data, commonly known as the right to be forgotten.

Any individual whose personal data is processed by an organization is considered a data subject, regardless of their relationship with the organization (e.g., customer, employee).


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