We witness revolutionary changes in the software and mobile application development scenario. Right? With more and more apps being developed across the world and mushrooming mobile app development companies, the rules need to be stricter to safeguard the privacy and data protection of the app users. Our subject of discussion in this post is to let you know about GDPR- General Data Protection Regulation (2016/ 679) a regulation act passed on 27th April 2016.

Why every mobile app development company should know about GDPR in EU?
You may think why are we emphasizing on EU repeatedly? It is obvious from the official document that this regulation act is applicable for European countries with effect from May 25th 2018. Not only Europe but the citizens from Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein will also be entitled to the regulations and rules laid down in the GDPR act. It means if you are a company owner in Eu and above mentioned countries and you are handling the personal data of the Eu citizens, you will have to be in compliance with this act. According to the latest updates, it is now being implemented to almost all business owners with interest in Eu countries for investment in digital marketplace.

Why anyone and everyone involved in website development needs to know about this act? It is because it will have an impact on the global organisations also.

We would not jump directly to the penalties and guidelines related to GDPR. First, you need to make yourself familiar with a few terms so that the use cases about the act becomes more meaningful to you! After all, it is made to empower the enterprises as well as customers (app users, in this case!).

Significant Terms related to GDPR and mobile application ownership:

● Controller (The owner of the app):
As the term goes, “Controller” is the main investor and owner of the app who invests money and human resources as well as material resources into getting an app built for his sole purpose and ownership rights.

● Data processors :
As we already got to know from above that a controller is only responsible to put money into building an app. There are 3rd party services like Google, Amazon and so on which are integrated into the app to make the things work.

● Data subject:
Subjects are usually the users of any product or service. In this case, whenever we use the word Data subject, it means the user of the app as he is using it digitally and not tangibly.

● Data protection officer:
Mostly, what happens is that sometimes apps may have a significant amount of data to be processed and stored for future use that the Controller will need to hire a Data Protection Officer. This need doesnt arises every time but yes, large apps need this to be able to compliant to GDPR act.

● Personal Data:
It includes name, ID number, location data or online identifiers.

Did you know that…

“Organisations will be fined 4 percent of global turnover or 20 Millions of Euros for non-compliance”

Guidelines for GDPR: Explained in detail!

It makes us all the more excited about the use cases that every mobile application developer need to know about GDPR for quick compliance.

It is a sure and normal thing for an app owner or Controller to get confused over whether or not the app is legally safe for the users to use and share as well as save their data. That is why, we are taking in consideration some questions and we'll try to answer these FAQs. Please consider each and every piece of information we are going to share here before the strategy to plan and build the app is finalised.

1. A case may be that you have the users’ “pseudonymous data” as a controller of your own app. Installation ID is accessible through Google Analytics to you. You are worried...

So, the first thing you may want to know is that whether the installation ID a personal data of a person or just a general public piece of information. Whatever type of information you are able to access, make sure to categorise it into public or private information. These are the pieces which let you identify them which may not be a legal thing.

2. Suppose, you have an app idea in your head which is something like WhatsApp and Hike! The data subjects share personal information during chat. You are highly concerned and scared if it’s against the regulations of GDPR.

As you have no control on what the app users share with their friends and family, whether it’s a simple hi or some sensitive information. Maybe it’s an app that lets your users comment on pictures just like FaceBook. Since, you are not responsible for what the data subjects share, you can only give them a way to get the data deleted if it’s not of their liking. To be compliant, you, as a mobile application development company, building an app for the controller, will have to give them a contact method to be able to get their problems saved.

3. What if I use Google Analytics or other 3rd party integration services like Amazon, the data is accessible of my data subjects, is it all fine with the GDPR act?

It is only completely fine if you check on the Terms of Services (ToS) of any 3rd party services that you are going to include into your app. It is completely your responsibility to see whether or not the 3rd party services or software are taking into consideration the GDPR guidelines or not.

It becomes the joint burden of the Controller, mobile application developer as well as Data Processors to check these things beforehand or any personal data leakage will lead to penalties.

4. Is it compulsory to get into a written agreement or contract to get fully secure of the obligations in future from the 3rd party Data Processors?

The contract or the agreement need not to be signed with the data processors at any cost. There is a much simpler way to get the things done easily. As simple as it can get, you just have to check with your 3rd party processor that whether or not they comply with the GDPR regulations already or not!

5. Is it mandatory for every Controller of the app to hire a Data Protection Officer for handling the data?

It is not compulsory to hire and invest into Data Protection Officer as there’s a freedom in this regard. Thus, it will lead to reduced costs.

6. Is email and login information considered a personal data?

There is no doubt about the fact that email and login information are very much personal pieces of information. When emails are used, there is a possibility of getting into other data like their names and nicknames and pictures.

7. It may be possible that the controller of the application may want the data subjects to log in or sign up with popular apps like Facebook, Gmail etc. A token is active for half an hour because it is sent to the back-end. Only email address is read and not the names. Is it violation of the GDPR regulations.

The only feasible and possible answer to this query is that any process which leads to extraction of information can lead to violation for sure. So, be compliant if you are a mobile app development company in any country.

8. Sometimes, it becomes indispensable for any app Controller to let the data subjects share their shipping information.

There is a simple answer to this question. You, as an app controller need to tell the mobile application developer that you have hired to include a clause that the information provided by the app users is protected.

9. A software or a tool which helps to report things may give me personal information about the app users. Is it against the GDPR?

As we told you in case of the 3rd party data processors that you need to check with them about their terms of use. Similarly, in this case, make sure you check it and see that GDPR rules are followed by your bug reporting tools.

10. As a controller of the app, I am worried that each of my mobile application developer should be certified. Do I need to give them training on data protection techniques?

Only the Data Protection Officer (if you have hired one!) needs to be an expert and officially certified in this data protection course/ training.

GDPR is a regulation act that needs to be followed by every app owner together with mobile app development company. When an app is in compliance with the GDPR guidelines, it means that the app owner and the app user are completely worry-free and feel safe and secure while using the app. So, adopt GDPR as soon as possible and give your app users a stress-free user-experience!

Author's Bio: 

Being an experienced software developer at Xicom Technologies, Judi Toledo is passionate about web & mobile technologies. Researching on new technology that could help to enhance software functionalities. She keeps eye on the latest happening in the software industry to remain updated with the current market trends.