With the growing amount of personal information exchanged over the Internet, privacy is becoming more and more a concern for users. One of the key principles in protecting privacy is data minimisation. This principle requires that only the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish a certain goal is collected and processed. "Privacy-enhancing" communication protocols have been proposed to guarantee data minimisation in a wide range of applications. However, currently, there is no satisfactory way to assess and compare the privacy they offer in a precise way: existing analyses are either too informal and high level or specific for one particular system. In this work, we propose a general formal framework to analyse and compare communication protocols with respect to privacy by data minimisation. Privacy requirements are formalised independent of a particular protocol in terms of the knowledge of (coalitions of) actors in a three-layer model of personal information. These requirements are then verified automatically for particular protocols by computing this knowledge from a description of their communication. We validate our framework in an identity management (IdM) case study. As IdM systems are used more and more to satisfy the increasing need for reliable online identification and authentication, privacy is becoming an increasingly critical issue. We use our framework to analyse and compare four identity management systems. Finally, we discuss the completeness and (re)usability of the proposed framework.