With an ever-growing data acronym list, the world of data privacy can feel a little like alphabet soup whether you’re a newcomer or a privacy pro. Data privacy is a complex field, but the vocab does not need to be overwhelming. To bring genuine data privacy to more businesses and users, we believe that a little education goes a long way.
We curate this running Data Acronym Resource where you can find all data privacy abbreviations from A – Z in a single, central location. Bookmark this page for handy reference — we regularly update the list with new terms and link more resources. Check out our Latest Updates section if you just need a quick refresher on any new terms from the past couple of weeks.
Table of Contents
- May 13, 2022: We added CTDPA and FERPA to the “Laws” section. We added ML to the “Concepts and Tools” section.
- April 29, 2022: We added DSA to the “Pending Legislation” section. We added CBPR to the “Organizations and Roles” section. We added AMP and CI to the “Concepts and Tools” section.
- April 15, 2022: We added HITECH to the “Laws” section. We added FAIR and PaC to the “Concepts and Tools” section.
These measures are either in effect, or already passed and approaching the start of their enforcement period.
Biometric Information Privacy Act
State privacy law in Illinois governing how businesses can handle users’ biometric information, effective since 2008.
State privacy law in California, effective since 2020 and to be followed by the CPRA in 2023.
Consumer Data Protection Act
State privacy law in Virginia, going into effect in 2023.
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
Federal rule in the United States that regulates how online services can handle the personal information of children under 13 years of age.
Upcoming state privacy law in California to replace the CCPA in 2023.
Connecticut Data Privacy Act
State privacy law in Connecticut, going into effect in 2023.
Data Protection Act
Federal privacy act in the United Kingdom, effective since 2018.
Electronic Communications Privacy Act
Federal law in the US, effective since 1986, that extends previous legislation against phone wiretapping to protect the contents of computer communications while they are being made, in transit, and stored on computers.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
Federal law in the US, effective since 1970, that regulates credit agencies’ collection of credit report information as well as individuals’ access to such information.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
Federal law in the US, effective since 1974, that regulates access and processing of education-related data.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Federal law in the US, effective since 1978, that establishes processes for surveillance of communications, a provision that has been an ongoing point of contention in international data-transfer negotiations, especially between the US and the EU.
Privacy law for the European Union, effective since 2018.
General Data Protection Regulation-Kids
An informal term to refer to the protections specific to children’s data in the European Union under GDPR, particularly GDPR’s Article 8 and Recital 38.
Federal statute in the United States that, among other measures, requires financial organizations to disclose their data safeguards to their users; effective since 1999.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
Federal medical privacy law in the United States governing protections for patients’ health information.
Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (Act)
A US federal law, enacted in 2009, that seeks to close loopholes in HIPAA and promote privacy-respecting adoption of electronic health records among healthcare institutions.
Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais (Portuguese for General Personal Data Protection Law)
Data privacy law in Brazil, effective since 2020 with sanctions for violations starting in 2021.
Nevada Privacy of Information Collected on the Internet from Consumers Act
State privacy law in Nevada for websites’ privacy policies, effective in its amended form since 2019.
Personal Data Protection Law
Federal privacy act in Saudi Arabia, going into effect in 2023.
Federal privacy law in Canada, effective since 2000.
Personal Information Protection Act
Federal data protection law in Japan, effective since 2005, sometimes referred to as the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL). See also: China’s draft Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) in the Laws section.
Personal Information Protection Law
Federal privacy bill in China, passed in 2021. See also: Japan’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), sometimes referred to as the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), in the Laws section.
Protection of Personal Information Act
Federal privacy act in South Africa, effective since 2020.
Utah Consumer Privacy Act
State privacy law in Utah, going into effect in 2023.
These measures are under consideration but not yet passed.
Digital Markets Act
Proposed EU legislation that aims to address unfair business practices among large providers of digital services, including through regulation of end-user profiling, presented in 2020.
Digital Services Act
Proposed EU legislation that seeks to codify protections against unfair targeted advertising, illegal content, and disinformation; presented in 2020 and as of April 2022, the legislation awaits formal approval and will be directly applicable across the EU no earlier than January 1, 2024.
Proposed EU regulation with specific privacy guidelines for electronic communications, presented in 2017.
Personal Data Protection Bill
Federal privacy bill in India, presented in 2019.
Organizations and Roles
Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (Spanish for Spanish Data Protection Agency)
Spanish agency responsible for upholding data privacy law in the country.
Autoridade Nacional de Proteção de Dados (Portuguese for National Data Protection Authority)
Brazilian agency responsible for upholding data privacy law in the country.
Cybersecurity Administration of China
Chinese agency responsible for upholding data protection law in the county and for implementing technical specifications for the country’s PIPL.
Children’s Advertising Review Unit
US agency responsible for regulating advertising as it relates to children under the age of 12.
Cross-Border Privacy Rules (Forum)
A multilateral collaboration between the United States, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Canada to promote interoperability and bridge regions’ data privacy rules.
Certification des compétences du DPO
Individual certified by the International Association of Privacy Professionals to practice privacy in accordance with France’s CNIL agency.
Certified Information Privacy Manager
Title for an individual certified by the International Association of Privacy Professionals to build privacy into operations, e.g., audits and risk management.
Certified Information Privacy Professional
Title for an individual certified by the International Association of Privacy Professionals to practice privacy in legal and compliance settings.
Certified Information Privacy Technologist
Title for an individual certified by the International Association of Privacy Professionals to build privacy into engineering and IT functions.
Court of Justice of the European Union
Judicial body charged with interpreting and applying EU law in EU member countries.
Commission National de l’Informatique et des Libertés (French for National Commission on Informatics and Liberty)
French agency responsible for upholding data privacy law in the country.
Commission Nationale pour la Protection des Données (French for National Data Protection Commission)
Luxembourgish agency responsible for upholding data privacy law in the country.
California Privacy Protection Agency
Agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the CPRA in California, beginning in 2023.
Data Protection Authority
Independent authority in an EU member country that oversees the application of GDPR and relevant country-specific laws; a legacy term for ISA.
Data Protection Commission
Ireland’s agency for upholding privacy law in the country, notably including Facebook’s EU base in Dublin.
Point-person for a company’s privacy compliance and training under GDPR.
European Data Protection Board
Independent organization for implementing data protection regulations in the EU, working in concert with DPAs and the EDPS.
European Data Protection Supervisor
Independent authority in the EU charged with overseeing how EU entities process personal data.
European Network and Information Security Agency
The European Union’s cybersecurity agency, aiming to support EU member states in meeting cybersecurity requirements and to provide expert guidance. Though the acronym remains, the organization’s full name is now the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity.
Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner
Switzerland’s data protection authority.
Federal Trade Commission
US federal agency responsible for enforcing regulations pertaining to consumer protection and market competition.
Interactive Advertising Bureau
A trade group that builds systems like the Transparency and Consent Framework to govern real-time bidding on advertising.
International Association of Privacy Professionals
Organization that conducts research, creates resources, and provides professional development among privacy professionals; body that grants certifications like CIPM, CIPP, and CIPT.
Information Commissioner’s Office
United Kingdom’s agency for upholding privacy law in the country.
Independent Supervisory Authority
Independent authority in an EU member country that oversees the application of GDPR and relevant country-specific laws; GDPR’s updated term for DSA.
International Organization for Standardization
An independent, non-governmental, and international organization that sets standards across technology and manufacturing. Some of its standards, namely 18013-5, are inspired by privacy frameworks like Privacy by Design.
National Institute of Standards and Technology
US federal agency that sets guidelines for innovation across technical fields and establishes frameworks for cybersecurity and privacy.
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Australian agency responsible for upholding rights related to data privacy, freedom of information, and government information in the country.
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
This acronym could refer to either New Zealand or Canada’s agency for upholding privacy law in the respective country, depending on the context in which the acronym is used.
Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data
Hong Kong agency responsible for upholding data privacy law in the region.
Personal Data Protection Commission
Singapore agency responsible for upholding data privacy law in the country.
Personal Information Protection Commission
South Korean agency responsible for upholding data privacy law in the country.
Automated Decision-Making, Solely Automated Decision-Making
The process by which a computer makes a decision given data as input, without human involvement. For SADM, no human is involved at any stage of the process.
Binding Corporate Rule
Policy for data protection applying to EU companies that transfer EU residents’ personal data outside of the EU.
Data Processing Agreement
Agreement between parties that share EU citizens’ personal data , as required under GDPR.
Data Protection Impact Assessment
Risk evaluation carried out for a data processing activity, legally required in certain cases under Virginia’s CDPA and the EU’s GDPR.
|DSR, DSAR, SAR||
A consumer’s request to a business to access, delete, or not sell the personal information that the business holds on them. The activities covered under a DSR depend on the applicable law.
Extract, Transform, Load
General data management term for the process of combining data from multiple sources.
Identifier for Advertisers
A unique device identifier for targeting users for advertising purposes, and advertisers’ access to such identifiers on Apple’s mobile devices now requires explicit user consent following the iOS 14.5 update.
Multi-Factor Authentication (aka 2FA for 2-Factor Authentication)
Process of verifying identity through more than one mechanism, e.g., sending a code to a user’s phone after they have entered their password.
Cryptography practice in which multiple parties run computations while their inputs are kept private from one another.
Private Right of Action
A right granted under certain laws by which individuals, rather than a government entity like the Attorney General’s office, can sue an organization for violating the law.
Record of Processing Activities
Inventory of how, why, and with whom a business handles EU citizens’ personal data, as required under GDPR.
Static Application Security Testing
An established process for testing software security within the CI/CD process. Its proactive nature has inspired similarly proactive approaches to privacy in software development.
Standard Contractual Clause
Legal mechanism for sharing the personal data of European Economic Area’s citizens with entities outside of the European Economic Area.
Concepts and Tools
Advanced Encryption Standard
An algorithm for encryption of electronic data, certified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology; the size of the key can be 128, 192, or 256 bits—this size label may be affixed to the acronym itself: AES-128, AES-192, AES-256.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
A framework developed by Google to enable faster loading of mobile pages, with the pages served from Google’s servers rather than those of the original publishers.
Application Programming Interface
A set of rules to enable the interchange of different applications’ data and services, mediating between pieces of software.
App Tracking Transparency
Anti-tracking feature from Apple, rolled out with the 2021 iOS 14.5 update, which requires apps to receive an iPhone user’s explicit consent in order to track the user’s unique advertising identifier.
A vehicle that is able to perform its necessary operations and interactions with the surrounding environment without a human driver.
The process of individual software developers contributing their code to a shared software project at high frequency, supported by a version control system and a suite of tools to ensure that new contributions meet standards for code quality.
Digital Signature Algorithm
An algorithm adopted by the US government for verifying the authenticity of data.
An encryption practice in which the cryptographic keys needed to read a message are only accessible at the endpoints of the communication: the sender and the receiver, to the exclusion of intermediate parties such as service providers.
Electronic Health Record
A digital version of a patient’s medical charts, including information such as diagnoses, medical history, test results, and other medical details.
Factor Analysis of Information Risk
A model for modern privacy that enables the management and measurement of privacy risk using a taxonomy of risks, their magnitudes, and their frequencies.
Fully Homomorphic Encryption
Encryption practice which allows an arbitrary number of computations on the encrypted data.
Fair Information Practice Principles
Privacy framework that has shaped privacy legislation as well as privacy engineering initiatives, a predecessor more modern approaches like Privacy by Design (PbD).
Federated Learning of Cohorts
One of Google’s proposed alternatives to cookies for individualized third-party tracking on its Chrome browser, relying on tracking users in groups rather than as individuals. Discontinued in January 2022 in favor of the Topics API.
Global Privacy Control
A browser setting for individuals to signal their privacy preferences (e.g., Do Not Sell My Personal Information under CCPA) to all sites visited.
Google Tag Manager
System for web developers to manage user tracking on their businesses’ websites.
Hash-based Message Authentication Code
A tool for authenticating messages, using any relevant cryptographic hash function. For instance, using the SHA-256 hash function to calculate the HMAC is referred to as HMAC-SHA256.
Internet of Things
The interconnected network of devices embedded with computing and sensing abilities, particularly in contexts such as the home or workplace with devices that might not resemble computers in a traditional sense, e.g., a home thermostat with internet connectivity.
Interoperable Private Attribution
A proposal for measuring ad campaigns that aims to preserve users’ privacy using multiparty computation and data aggregation, while providing useful metrics to advertisers.
Feature offered by Facebook in 2020 to businesses, aiming to limit businesses’ collection of Californians’ personal information in order for them to comply with the CCPA.
A field focused on the development and usage of technologies that imitate some aspects of human learning, such that they gradually become more successful at specific tasks.
An approach that treats personal data in such a way that its privacy attributes are explicit and governable within the code environment.
Framework for building privacy into the design of technologies.
Privacy Enhancing Technology
A tool designed to strengthen users’ privacy and to use minimal amounts of personal information, e.g., pseudonymization.
Pretty Good Privacy
One of the first publicly available public-key cryptography systems, in which sender of a message uses a public key specific to the recipient to encrypt a message (often using the Rivest-Shamir-Adleman algorithm), and the recipient uses a private key—known to no other party—to decrypt the message.
Partially Homomorphic Encryption
Encryption practice which allows a single computation on the encrypted data.
Personally Identifiable Information
Information that could reasonably identify a unique individual; different regulations have different designations of what pieces of information are considered personally identifiable.
Quick Response (Code)
A two-dimensional barcode that can point to a URL or application, posing risks to security and privacy if the code, for instance, links to a dangerous website or compromises device settings.
Role-Based Access Control
Security and privacy framework with permissions assigned according to personnels’ specific roles.
Radio Frequency Identification
A type of tag that transmits a radio signal via a small antenna, used to send information over greater distances than tools that use other electromagnetic waves (e.g., infrared). RFID tags are sometimes implemented to track the location of objects, such as inventory moving through a commercial checkpoint.
One of the oldest public-key cryptosystems, the strength of which derives from the difficulty of factoring products of large prime numbers.
Software Development Kit
A collection of tools for developing software applications with respect to particular platform or system requirements, such as those required for Android or iOS apps.
Software Development Life Cycle
The ongoing and iterative process for building software, spanning stages like designing, developing, testing, and reviewing.
Secure Hash Algorithm
A suite of cryptographic hash functions adopted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Secure Sockets Layer
Deprecated cryptographic protocol that was often used for securing websites, email, and other communications. Its successor is Transport Layer Security.
Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework
Announced agreement to support EU-U.S. data flows that uphold both regions’ privacy expectations. As of April 1, 2022, it is an in-principle agreement, not yet providing details on its implementation.
Transparency and Consent Framework
A system developed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau to power real-time bidding on advertising through processes like signalling users’ consent preferences to vendors.
Transport Layer Security
Cryptographic protocol most commonly known for website security, the successor to the deprecated Secure Sockets Layer.
Short for “User Agent string,” information on a browser that communicates which browser is being used, the device it’s being used on, and the version of the browser.
Universally Unique Identifier
128-bit value used in software and encryption as a distinct label.
Virtual Private Network
A network over a public network so that parties can exchange information as if they were connected by a private network.
Zero-Knowledge Proof, or Zero-Knowledge Protocol
A cryptographic process by which someone can prove to a distinct verifier that a given statement is true, without revealing any information to the verifier or the broader world besides the truth of the statement. At a high level, it is a means of enforcing honesty with minimal privacy leakage; its applications include authentication and blockchain transactions.