Mobile App GDPR Compliance

What is app GDPR compliance?

The online world has become a boon as well as a bane for everyone. And, user information is the center stage for every online business. Are we taking too much out of the user information? Well, maybe. The introduction of GDPR had put a curb on that. Therefore, app GDPR compliance has become an urgent task.

You still don’t believe it?

You will if you know that fines as high as upto euro 1 million. The fine can depend on the sensitivity of the information that is at risk. Idea Usher has been following the proper GDPR rules. And wants to inform all the mobile app developers and owners to be well informed about it. Let’s begin!

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is general regulation brought into force in the year 2018. It is a public data protection policy formulated by the EU (European Union). It is enforceable not just inside the EU but also the transfer of personal data outside the EU.

Since every Data protection in mobile apps is the utmost need of the hour,  there is a long list of defaulters who were fined. Some of them are Google ( $56.5 million), H&M ( $ 41 million). And Uber had to give 4000,000 euros as a fine for a data breach in France. GDPR seems like a crucial factor to consider.

We will quickly skim through the important details of GDPR first.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Made by  Council of European Union (EU), & European Parliament
Creation Date 14th April 2016
Implementation Date 25th May 2018
Replaces Data Protection Directive

Related Read: What exactly is GDPR? – Idea Usher

What does it mean to comply with the GDPR? 

Four important aspects of the GDPR law:

  • Right to know how their data is processed

For every individual, it will become easier to get a hold of the information they are sharing online. They must be informed well before using your mobile application about your privacy policy and data protection.

  • Right to portability

Earlier, it wasn’t easy to transfer one’s data between service providers. Some providers didn’t even provide that convenience. But, with GDPR compliance in action, customers can easily transfer their data if they ever have to change their service provider.

  • Right to be forgotten

If an individual wants, they can decide it and make it clear to any mobile app or an online service provider. The customer has the right to decide to retract the information that a company has of them. They can inform the company that they no longer wish to have their data processed. And the company must delete it unless they have some legitimate reason to retain it.

  • Right to know their data is hacked

The customers should know that their data has been hacked. According to this provision, the companies or any organization should notify the National supervisory authority regarding any data breaches as soon as they happen. Immediate action can help the authorities take proper measures as soon as possible.

Do you need to be GDPR compliant for your app? 

GDPR Compliance Statistics

The above infographic by Statista shows how so many big firms from UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have taken steps to get app GDPR compliance. This GDPR compliance statistics show how the companies formulate their applications and software to work according to the guidelines.

Before we continue to know why GDPR compliance is so critical for your mobile application, let’s get familiar with a few terms. Understanding these may help us with the whole GDPR app development process.

  • Privacy of Design Concept

Privacy by Design is a new concept that developed in the times of GDPR. According to this, privacy by design is a new legal requirement for all well-established businesses and those planning to launch.

It is a straightforward concept that is not all new. Privacy of Design means including user privacy elements in your application right from the beginning steps.

Article 23 of GDPR states that you must retain and process only the extremely necessary data. Therefore, include data protection elements and privacy policy in the mobile app that you are developing. If you haven’t done it yet, include it now. And if you are starting a mobile app development process, don’t leave GDPR as an afterthought.

  • Data subject

The end-users of your product or services (the mobile application users) are referred to as the data subjects. You collect, store and, use their information for various business purposes.

  • Data processor

A Data processor is an organization that collects and processes user information on behalf of the data controller firms. These organizations use software such as cloud services and analytics tools for data storage and processing purposes.

  • Data controller

The data controller is the one that decides the purpose for which the private data is collected and processed. A data controller determines what type of data to collect and what to do with it later.

App Development Legal Issues, UK

Apart from the whole of the EU, this regulation is enforceable in the UK as well. GDPR has replaced the Data Protection Act by Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which has 

The GDPR compliance in the UK is pretty much the same. And simply put, many UK-based companies have millions of EU bases customers. So, yes, the same GDPR compliance becomes as mandatory in the UK as in any European country.

Is the GDPR applicable to US companies outside the EU?

GDPR had become a universal requirement as the online world is becoming more advanced. To stop violating users’ online privacy rights. Besides, following GDPR rules helps your application, whether android or iOS, align with not just EU regulations but also other countries. Many parts of the world like Brazil, South Korea, and Japan have made new consumer protection regulations that gel well with GDPR compliance.

In addition, California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) is similar to the GDPR act. So, there is yet another reason why GDPR should be followed. And, there are other factors that might convince you as to why app GDPR compliance is crucial:

  1. If you are a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) company,
  2. If you are running an online store that collects information of its users (including EU citizens).
  3. If you have a newsletter, sign up for the customers who visit your website.
  4. Suppose you have an eCommerce store. Let’s say, for instance, An LA bases online retail store that takes a lot of orders from customers based in Paris. Do they need to app GDPR compliance? If they don’t want to lose their customers bases in Europe, then definitely.
  5. If you have a mobile application with a global presence or an idea of developing an app, avoid a limitation of users because of these rules (make your app GDPR compliant).

Mobile applications especially need to be aware. These are the most affected among the online hoard of services and platforms. Next, we will quickly know about mobile app GDPR compliance solutions.

9 Easy steps for mobile app compliance 

  • Availability of privacy policy to the users of the mobile app

Nowadays, it is common to provide a long list of information, terms, and conditions about signing up with the app. The privacy policy should be available to each user in clear and simple language.

  • Keep a log for justifying your data collection

The data controller needs to maintain a record of what information they are processing and the activities undertaken with that data. Even the minor details like the user name, email address, IP address to the particular location like the country they are located in— all must be kept as a record.

  • Information regarding personal data sharing with third parties

This is another critical aspect of the data protection guideline. Users hardly ever prefer sharing their personal information with third-party applications and businesses.

  • Appropriate security measures for the users’ benefit

  • Transparency and visibility

The privacy policy provided by your company should have all terms and conditions mentioned in a simple way. This makes the information-gathering process transparent. While there are many examples of transparency and visibility default, you should provide the information relating to GDPR in the app store itself, like Google Playstore. 

  • Storage and encryption

For any external communications, your mobile application should use SSL or HTTPS. Sensitive user information such as passwords, OTP, etc., should be appropriately encrypted. If ever, such a piece of information is transferred or exposed in plain text on the internet; it could be a direct invitation to the hackers.

Not just the external communications, but the backups and all other data stored with the apps should be stored in a safe place. The users should also know how much of their data is stored. 

  • Asking for explicit consent

For any data passage, the business must ask you for consent before using, collecting, or/and moving any of their data. The reason could be analytics, customer survey, crash logging, or advertising; permission must be taken. 

And the given information should be stating their intention with the information usage, and the language should be comprehensible for the customers.

Any data collected for such a purpose should have an opt-in option like email requests or push notifications.

  • Appointment of DPA (Data Protection Officer)

The company may appoint a DPA (Data Protection Officer) to check the GDPR compliance of your company. However, there are some instances in which selecting a DPA to become more necessary:

  1. Your company has a large-scale business. The activities carried out on a routine basis are on a massive scale. Therefore, it is essential to have systematic monitoring of individuals. Some instances could be behavioral tracking, etc.
  2. You are a public authority (storing online data becomes extra critical and get protected)
  3. Large-scale processing of special categories of data.

Be careful about how you analyze user data. The analysis of the user information violates their privacy, could become a big hindrance. 

  • GDPR SDK for Android and other platforms

Any data you are sending to a data processor for further analysis should be done under public knowledge. Provide transparency for every step. You should sign a Data Processing Agreement. A written agreement between you and the data processors is excellent to ensure user data safety and transparency. 

You can apply methods like: restrict with Google Ad id, opt-out of methods that send events to CleverTap, use marketing opt-out, etc. There are several backend functions in both Android and iOS that can make your app GDPR compliant.

  • Data Breach Notifications and alerts

Your application or product users have the right to what’s happening with the information you have collected. And it is your responsibility to keep it safe from cyber attacks as well. However, 

  •  Data Erasure Rights

Suppose that an online application or your website user wants to stop using it and delete their accounts. What would you do? Still, keep their information without their knowledge? Many applications used to do that in the past. But now the rules are strict. Consequently, you can be fined for keeping information without their knowledge and permission.

How to make your software GDPR compliant?

GDPR App- Idea Usher

There are a few more fundamental elements to be careful about when starting on some software development. To make software GDPR compliant, some tips to follow:

  • Minimization of personal data
  • Recording the implementation of the GDPR rules
  • Implement the information security measures
  • Identify the personal data, maintain a record, and keep checking its data accessibility.
  • Make ‘private a setting by default
  • Embed proper privacy options, keeping your users’ data safe
  • Make data mapping a part of your privacy option
  • Informed consent should be present for any personal information processing work

A Quick Guide to GDPR for mobile applications:

The mobile applications, be of any kind, need to determine some factors and make updates so that your app does not fall under the GDPR radar. Let us take a look at each of those factors:

Data Mapping Reviews

Create a list of all those tools and services that collect and process data for your application.

Updating the privacy policy

Rewrite your privacy policy in a clear and upfront manner. All terms should be mentioned to create transparency. And explicit consent of the users should be asked before they start using your application.

Ensure security of data

Ensure a few things for security purposes like deleting users’ data after they cancel your app services, encrypt all personal data, and use the GDPR guidelines to check the compliance time and again.

Updating the notices for GDPR compliance

All your third-party contracts and customer contracts should be GDPR compliant. There are some GDPR complaint tools like this that can help you test the compliance of your contracts.

GDPR Compliance for Game developers

GDPR applies to all mobile applications, including gaming apps. So, what points should you consider when developing a gaming application?

1. Personalized/Non-personalized ads

Personalized ads are based on user’s online behavior. Otherwise, some gaming apps show generalized ads. For personalized ads, you need the user’s consent, and they should be aware of it.

2. Review online advertising services

On taking help of external services for data storage, update the app users about it. Ensure proper safety measures, and review the service providers before appointing a firm for this. Many companies and SDKs that you connect with might still not have app GDPR compliance Confirm about it before handing over the task.

3. Written DPA

Data Processing Agreement is a legal contract that has all the rights and regulations of GDPR clearly mentioned.  Most importantly, we should get GDPA signed with any concerning parties, including all the data processors you are associated with.

4. Choose ad technology providers

For using AdSense for advertisement placement on your application, you need to make sure that your app is GDPR compliant. Google also has a list of companies on AdSense. You can check which are GDPR compliant.

5. Visibility and transparency

We have already discussed transparency as an important factor. The same points as mentioned earlier apply here as well.

6. Ads for kids

GDPR also mentions specific protections provided for children as they might be less aware of the risks, effects, and safety measures for using your mobile application. There are some mentions of online kid safety like plain language, parental consent, etc. 

What are fines for not complying with the GDPR? 

How many times have we tried finding loopholes in the legal system? Haven’t kept them count! Well, you’d have still thought, can we ignore GDPR? 

Don’t make the same mistake that Google and many other big companies had made. 

Google was fined with euro 50 million for the transparency issues and lack of valid consent for personalized ads by the French Data Protection Authority CNIL. 

Until now, the EU has the ability to fine upto 4% of global turnover as fine for not complying with GDPR (which roughly accounts for 20 million euros). It is better to follow the rules. Next, read on about some good examples of making GDPR complaint updates in our software application.

Top 4 best examples of companies who complied with GDPR 

GDPR and apps should now go hand-in-hand. Why? Because GDPR has become a need of the hour. It may seem like just connected with the EU. But making your mobile app compliant with GDPR saves your company from a lot of trouble. If these known and big companies can do that, why can’t you? Yes, let’s look at what changes they brought along:

1. Facebook

Facebook Privacy Policy-GDPR

Facebook and all the other social networking sites have the highest risk of leaking personal data that people share on them. So, they must provide some concrete privacy policy on how you as a customer can access, request, and update your information clause.

To escape any such consequences of GDPR, Facebook provided not just a privacy policy on the signing-up form. In addition, in fact, it provided the privacy policy as a downloadable tool. You can download that page and keep it as pdf on your PC.

2. BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed app Privacy policy

Minor setting changing options are enough to keep users’ privacy in check. Buzzfeed made one of its apps, called Tasty, a GDPR compliant mobile application by adding a small clause. It gives the BuzzFeed-owned app users the freedom to stop allowing the app tracking even after the consent has been given. 

Notice how they have given the ‘disable’ option and informed about it in the cookie policy section. Users can disable the cookies that track-the-device technology.

3. LinkedIn

LinkedIn GDPR

LinkedIn provided a very good example of the right to data portability in one of the clauses mentioned in the privacy policy. Your mobile app user has the right to transmit their data. The user can transmit data to some third-party mobile application or business without the need for consent from you. Isn’t it?

Not just this, LinkedIn has provided a detailed policy structure with all element tabs, including user agreements. Whether guided by GDPR or not, a data protection mobile application is always liked by the users in the long term.

4. Adobe

adobe email policy-gdpr

Getting bombarded with emails regularly is not liked by all people unless they like updates. Adobe has fixed this problem by providing a particular opt-out option under its privacy policy. 

You can click on the opt-out option if you don’t like getting emails regarding their upgraded feature, discount offers on a premium account, etc. It acts as users’ consent for getting contacted via mails.

Wrapping Up 

GDPR has been effective from 25th May 2018. There are 11 chapters, 93 articles, and 173 recitals. On the whole, GDPR provides protection from online threats and enhances the digital privacy of people.

Many companies who didn’t take up the issue seriously faced charges and were fined. All in all, the regulation should be taken proactively and applied while you are developing your mobile application. App GDPR compliance is a step towards a safer online experience, and hence all mobile applications are likely to follow it.

If you haven’t got your app GDPR compliance, choose an appropriate GDPR software developers who can make those changes in your software. We have helped many companies solve so many technological advancements. GDPR is not an issue, it is a way of strengthening your company’s loyalty to its customers. 

For more details and GDPR related solutions, contact us.

Idea-Usher

FAQ 

What are the requirements of the GDPR for the US?

The GDPR is only applicable to EU countries. But, no, it is applicable for every EU entity anywhere in the world. So, if any of your companies’ customers are a legal EU entity, they should follow GDPR properly, or the company could face charges of violation. Several EU citizens can be your mobile application’s customers. So, even if your company is operating and owned by US citizens, it becomes crucial to have your mobile compliant with GDPR.

Do you have to comply with GDPR if you collect employee data?

Yes, to simply put, any data subjects or individuals of the EU, whether your employees get protection under GDPR. Your company saves your personal data like professional files, payroll information, medical records, etc. Inform the employee and take their consent for collecting their personal data.

Is firebase GDPR compliant?

Firebase cloud firestone is Google’s mobile platform used for storage, hosting, and backend services. Many mobile app companies use the Firebase cloud. You need to create a privacy policy as Google may automatically install cookies in the app users’ devices.

 

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