How GDPR Impacts Mobile App Development


Personal data protection is an essential part of human rights which is frequently neglected in modern society.

The Internet has opened the curtains to personal lives and personal information. On one hand, it causes the simplifications in different processes and is necessary for business relationships. On the other hand, it damages personal space. What is even more important, sometimes, the personal information is collected without any substantial reason for it and used illegally.

In order to revolutionize the industry and thoroughly protect users’ rights, new data protection rules will come into effect this May. The Data Protection Act that is used in European countries at the moment will be replaced by the brand new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The core of the regulations is formed by the set of rules for collecting and processing personal data.

GDPR affects every company and organization that handles customers’ data. GDPR for mobile app development is a topic that needs to be discussed even more thoroughly. In this article, we review the GDPR basics and analyze how it affects the mobile application development industry.

GDPR for Mobile Apps

The GDPR set of rules impacts all consumers within the European Union as well as those outside its borders. The regulations are obligatory for the EU company owners that collect users’ personal data. Besides that, if the business runs outside the EU but satisfies the needs of European citizens, the rules are obligatory as well. The cost for noncompliance is too high – up to 20 million euros or 4% of the annual turnover. This is why it is extremely important to take the topic seriously and start building only GDPR-compliant apps. Additionally, all the existing software must meet GDPR requirements as well.

To understand the topic of GDPR for mobile apps, it is necessary to explore the basics of those regulations.

Every GDPR requirement impacts the mobile apps in a certain way. Here, we highlight only some of the most important influences.

  • Personal Data

As was mentioned above, GDPR concerns all types of personal data. It includes name, surname, contact information, place of residence, sexual orientation, political ideology, and any data that can help identify an individual. Every mobile app owner needs to get approval to collect and process personal data. Crucially, the company or organization is obliged to provide the reasons for collecting.

  • Access to Data

According to upcoming GDPR, only a limited number of authorities have access to private data. Your mobile app development team needs to find the information security specialist, who is aware of the laws and best practices. This employee – Data Protection Officer – and the user have full access to the information. Besides, the user can make an inquiry to the company regarding what data the company has on the user and what it is used for. Also, the user can ask how long the data will be stored and who had or will have access to it. Apart from that, the user has the right to be informed about when and what the data is collected and processed for.

  • Right to Be Forgotten

Every user has the right to erase personal data from your database. Particularly, a person can use data controllers, delete personal information, prevent data processing, make it irrelevant, etc. The aim of this point is to allow people to withdraw from the agreement with no hassle.

  • Privacy by Design

Privacy by design is another requirement to be aware of. The data protection concept needs to be considered and designed at the very beginning of the mobile app lifecycle. The rule plays an important role in any company from a small startup to a giant enterprise.

  • Data Breach Notifications

The next necessary rule of GDPR for app developers is that you need to announce the breach no later than 72 hours after you detect it. Both the users of the applications and the authorities need to be notified about the data breach/incident as soon as possible.

Compliance with the rules is not impossible. In fact, building a clear picture of this set of requirements and following the simple practices will help you run your business seamlessly. Ignoring the revolution in data protection may cost your business a fortune. And as GDPR and software development are closely related, your mobile apps feel the impact as well.

GDPR for Mobile Apps: How to Comply with Innovations

The deadline is approaching. On the 25th of May, it will be too late to think about the steps to take to reach the needed results. So it is vital to prepare your documentation and software ASAP.

Extensions developers and company management are responsible for data they collect. This is why it is crucial to control the data usage and activities connected to it. In fact, GDPR in essence is aimed at making it all clear, obvious, and secure. At the same time, application owners have many additional tasks to deal with while there is still some time for that:

  • GDPR consists of many points, details and exceptions; so no doubt, it is necessary to have at least minimum information about all of them.
  • To comply with the new regulation you must know for sure why and how your app collects, stores, and transfers personal data.
  • Servers and firewall configurations have to be updated, as they participate directly in the whole data security process.
  • Physical and digital access to protected data needs to be limited and controlled.

As you can see, software app owners are greatly affected by the GDPR revolution. Another question that defines the impact is what steps to take to prepare for GDPR? Let’s answer it precisely.

1. Decide if You Really Need to Use Personal Data

This is the core of all the upcoming preparations. If your mobile app does not collect user information, or does not need to do it, you can forget about GDPR and its features. No personal data – no need to protect it.

2. Make Sure the Users Know You Collect their Data

You must inform the users about data collection and your reasons for doing it. Additionally, you need to obtain their consent to be compliant with GDPR. Add the privacy policy to your app. It should be simple for your users to understand. Also, ask for consent for user data processing, and add a flow for users who don't want to give the consent.

3. Take Care of Data Protection

It is obligatory to use special encrypting methods and guarantee the highest level of information security. Choose the most suitable way to keep data safe and implement it in your mobile app.

4. Keep Your Hand on the Pulse

For you as a software business owner or IT enthusiast, it is necessary to be aware of the technologies your mobile project uses. Besides that, you must know about your weaknesses. The more you are ready to handle a potential incident, the easier it will be to solve it.

5. Answer Users’ Questions

You are now aware of the key GDPR principles and purposes. But your users are not. So get ready to answer their questions and provide them with the details they would like to know about.

This checklist will be useful for you from the day you start to prepare your mobile app for GDPR.

We found another useful tip for you. Mapping is a nice way to organize accepted information and prevent possible issues or potential dangers. Define the path the user’s information goes through. Find out who has access to it on every point of the path. Conduct research to make sure that during this whole path data is safe. And of course, do not forget about the documentation that proves everything is under control.

Final Thoughts

GDPR for mobile app developers is as important as for anyone else connected to those new regulations. In fact, GDPR impacts the whole software development industry greatly. And if you think that your app is too small to feel this impact you are wrong.

It is not the size of the app that defines the necessity to be GDPR compliant. Now, it is all about the information you collect and process.

Generally, GDPR impacts the mobile industry positively. It takes care of the users' rights and provides the support digital industry was in need of for many years. The important thing is to prepare for it properly.

So, get ready for the GDPR revolution and make sure your mobile apps comply with GDPR!

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