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Private information is

information that is associated with individuals or groups of individuals, which could reveal details of their lives or other characteristics that could impact them. Private information is not necessarily information that, on its own, is linked to individuals directly.
[d]ata, facts, instructions, or other material intended for or restricted to a particular person, group, or organization.[1]


Private information is typically a classification of information that individuals use for themselves. It is a broad and general term that is more ambiguously used than other privacy terms. For example, the combination to a bank safety deposit lock is private, but the combination number itself does not point to any specific individual. As another example, some individuals consider how they voted in presidential elections to be private information that they do not want any others know. Other individuals, however, communicate how they voted on bumper stickers for the world to see because they have determined that, for them, it is not private information.

Individuals often consider personally identifiable information (PII) to be a type of private information, and personal information could also be private information. For utilities, market data that includes information about a negotiated price for a customer is likely considered by the customer to be private information; they may not want their friends, neighbors or the general public to see this information.

Smart grid[]

Smart device data from within consumer dwellings could also be a type of private information. Private information could cause harm to the associated individuals or groups if misused or accessed by those who do not have a business need.


  1. ATP 2-22.9, at Glossary-5.


  • NIST, "Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security: Vol. 2, Privacy and the Smart Grid," at E-3 (NISTIR 7628) (Aug. 2010).

See also[]