Some years ago, when individuals ask if they can control who has access to their personal data, the answer would have been “no”. However, the world is getting more digital and users have kind of accepted that their information can be the price to pay for many things: playing games or using services. On top of that… there are data breaches here and there. To help control protect users and especially to keep them informed, GDPR came into inception in 2016 to regulate data privacy, and it has a serious impact on how your app works.

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It is a crucial and globally-influenced data and privacy law from the European Union. The Regulation started on April 27th, 2016, and passed into the law on May 25th, 2018, after a two-year evolution interval. 

The GDPR applies to mobile apps that compile and process personal data of European Union (EU) citizens. It is key to know that it doesn’t matter if your app is operated from outside of the EU, the regulation will still apply. That’s why the impact of this regulation can be considered to be global and impacting apps that are distributed in any market.

The main purpose of the GDPR is to ensure that there is a better privacy protection and control that EU citizens have over the data they give to digital companies. The regulations allow individuals to have control over their personal data and enhance how businesses handle personal data of their customers. 

Through the GDPR, businesses conducting transactions in the EU, including mobile apps, would have to comply with the new data privacy rules. Negligence to do so could result in high charges. 

Key GDPR Definitions

To understand the efficacy and how GDPR for apps works, you need to first understand the terminologies involved. 

Data Controller (or administrator): this is a legal person in control of determining the purposes for and means of collecting and processing personal data to achieve business goals. In most cases, the data controller is usually the application owner. 

Data Processor: this is a legal person or organization that processes personal data on behalf of the data controller. Third-party services that connect to your app to host your customer data, such as Google Analytics, Cloud Services, and so on are data processors. Some outsourcing development companies may also be considered data processors. 

Data Subject: this is a person whose data is processed. Basically, it’s mostly an app user or web visitors. 

Data Protection Officer: this is a legal person appointed by the data controller or processor to help with GDPR compliance. However, this is only required when the personal data to be processed is significant and/or sensitive. 

What Does GDPR Mean For Mobile App Owners? 

The personal data of app users have never had the need to be this tightly and comprehensively protected. Hence, app owners and developers ought to look at new ways to plan and develop apps to fully comply with GDPR requirements.

However, the regulation does not have precise step-by-step procedures. It only presents a list of the broad rules that must be kept in mind while developing an app. 

Never forget that the main objective of GDPR is to make the data clear, noticeable, and secure. Here are some of the steps to app developers can take to prepare for GDPR. 

  1. App developers must think of ways to use personal data. Hence, is personal data wouldn’t be needed, there is no need to collect it. This basically means that, if your app is collecting, let’s say, the user’s location, there should be a reason behind it, like offering a tailored experience for such location. 
  2. Mobile app owners and developers must inform users about personal data being collected before it happens. To ensure this, an easy-to-read privacy policy section must be added to the app for users to scheme through. If your app needs to collect personal data, you must seek the consent of users before collecting and processing their data. 
  3. The highest level of data security must be observed, no matter the size of your app. Hence, you must adopt the most effective tool to keep data safe and secure. 
  4. Be aware of data encryption technologies. Telling users about the technologies used in developing the apps will create a sense of trust between you and them. The more transparent you are, the easier it is to deal with possible incidents. 
  5. Remember that not all users are aware of the GDPR laws. Hence, you must be ready to solve their complaints and provide all the details they would like to be aware of. 

In short

GDPR is out for the security of personal data of app users. At the end of the day, it’s beneficial not only for users but also for developers, since it should create a more trustable environment for all. Hence, app developers must be conscious of this regulation not only when building a new app but also for the existing ones they may have, disregarding if they distribute in third-party app stores or in mainstream ones.