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Does Your Business's Mobile App Comply with GDPR?

Business.com / Customers / Last Modified: July 30, 2018
Image credit: Wright Studio/Shutterstock

Soon after Europe's new privacy laws went into effect, tech giants like Facebook and Google's Android were sued for their "forced consent" strategy. If your business has a mobile app (that consumers in the EU may use), here's what your business needs to do to comply.

It is imperative for online entities to mold their services and policies and make them GDPR friendly. The new data transparency laws are not only strict but harsh when it comes to penalizing those companies that ignore the laws.

Moreover, compliance laws are not limited to web services but also encompass mobile applications that access users' contact lists, location, etc., without their consent.

What is GDPR?

By definition, GDPR is an acronym for the General Data Protection Regulation. The European data privacy policy is designed to provide data transparency to EU netizens (data subjects). Apart from data transparency, the policy also empowers netizens of the EU to keep tabs on the flow of their data within and outside an organization (data controller) and have complete control on data usage, process, and storage.

Primary rights of consumers under GDPR

Since the GDPR has a long list of articles or policies, below are a few key points.

  • Users should be clearly informed of the intent of the data usage, and the user should be given an opt-in and opt-out option. Moreover, the data controller should give complete rights to users as to whether they want to let the data controller process the data or not.
  • Users should have the option to have their data transferred from one electronic device to another for their convenience.
  • Users have complete authority on restricting the data controller when it comes to the usage of data for direct marketing.
  • Users have complete rights to request their data be deleted if the user is no longer a consumer of that particular product or service.

GDPR compliance extends to mobile apps too

As stated earlier, GDPR policies are not only for online entities but they extend to the services these companies provide, which include consumer apps. It is imperative for companies or mobile app owners to review GDPR policies in detail to ensure their apps comply with the EU data privacy policies.

Some of the finer points to be aware of include:

1. With GDPR now being a part of your responsibility, you can now no longer leave compliance as a to-do at the end of your app development process. You need to consider users' privacy and data protection aspects from the onset, i.e., when you are designing the app. If you are developing the app, identifying the areas for data privacy and security is easy. However, when it comes to a team, identifying a different process for GDPR compliance can be troublesome. Therefore, consider compliance during the design phase.

2. What information do you need to collect from users and to what extent? Mobile applications are notorious for seeking irrelevant permissions. Therefore, outline the type of data you need to collect and ensure you only collect that which is necessary.

3. Extending the above point, it is now imperative that you clearly inform users about the data you are collecting and that you get their consent. Article 7 of the GDPR act clearly defines how to ask for permission. More importantly, it requires that the information and request for consent be presented in plain language, i.e., avoid gimmicks here.

4. Once you have secured consent, it is imperative that you secure the data you are collecting. Cybercrimes are becoming more common and serious with each passing year. You need to ensure that users' data is safe from hackers and other cybercriminals, or else you will pay a heavy penalty.

Mobile app owners or app development agencies must familiarize themselves with GDPR and ensure their app complies witht the new regulation as early as possible, ideally during the app-design process. These policies are not only limited to consumer applications but enterprise-grade applications as well.

Companies face steep penalties

There is a reason that online entities across the globe dread GDPR. First, GDPR policies aren't limited to businesses operating in the EU. In fact, online businesses that are operating from any part of the globe but offering services to consumers in the EU fall under GDPR.

In the event of a breach of policy breach or noncompliance, companies face fines of up to 20 million Euros or four percent of their annual profits. In fact, non-conforming companies might also have their app banned.

Final thoughts

The EU's GDPR policy spearheads a new age of data privacy protection. If your business has a mobile app for consumers – especially consumers based in the EU – consider following the policies to the T. Otherwise, you might end up with a heavy penalty and losing a profitable business forever.

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