Geolocation tracking has become a ubiquitous feature in modern applications and services.
It allows companies to gather customers’ location-based data to improve user experience and offer more personalized services.
However, with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU), companies that collect, process, use, or share geolocation data must ensure they comply with the strict data protection standards set by the regulation.
So, if your company collects customers’ geolocation data to provide location-based services (i.e. weather, delivery, navigation, etc.) or build their behavioral profiles, modeling, and predictive analysis, it is essential to comply with GDPR.
In this article, we will explore what GDPR compliance exactly is, and how to meet its regulations for geolocation tracking.
What is GDPR Compliance?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a comprehensive data privacy regulation that was implemented in the European Union (EU) in May 2018.
For the uninitiated, the regulation aims to protect the privacy rights of EU citizens & residents by setting strict standards for the collection, processing, and storage of personal data.
Companies that collect the personal data of their EU customers must follow the requirements set out in the GDPR.
These requirements include:
- Obtaining explicit consent from individuals to collect and use their data
- Providing transparent information about the purpose and use of the data
- Implementing appropriate measures to safeguard the data
Neglecting to comply with GDPR can result in hefty fines and reputational damage.
Currently, the GDPR fines are categorized into two tiers.
Less serious breaches or violations can result in €10 million or 2% of the company’s annual revenue in fines, depending on which amount is higher.
Severe data breaches or violations can cost fines up to €20 million or 4% of the company’s annual revenue, whichever is higher.
How Does GDPR Affect Geolocation Tracking?
The GDPR has a significant impact on geolocation tracking as it classifies geolocation data as personal data.
For the uninitiated, geolocation tracking refers to the collection and processing of location data from an individual’s device or other sources, such as GPS or Wi-Fi signals.
Companies then make sense of the collected geolocation data through data science and gain meaningful insights to make better decisions in real-time.
However, any company that now collects such geolocation data is subject to the GDPR’s strict data protection standards.
So, if your company currently collects or processes the geolocation data of your EU customers, you must ensure that they are in compliance with the GDPR’s requirements.
How to Comply with GDPR for Geolocation Tracking?
Here are some steps companies can take to meet GDPR compliance for geolocation tracking.
1 – Evaluate What Your Company Already Does to Protect Geolocation Data
The first step in meeting GDPR compliance for geolocation tracking is to assess the current state of your company’s data protection practices.
To do so, start by reviewing the procedures and systems in place for collecting, processing, and storing geolocation data.
After that, determine if you have appropriate technical and organizational measures in place to protect the data, such as data encryption and access controls.
Finally, identify any gaps in your current processes that need to be addressed to meet GDPR compliance.
2 – Create a Workflow to Obtain Explicit Consent Before Collecting Geolocation Data
Obtaining explicit consent is a crucial requirement of GDPR compliance for geolocation tracking.
Companies must obtain explicit consent from individuals before collecting and using their geolocation data.
Furthermore, the consent must be specific, informed, and customers must have the right to withdraw their consent at any time.
To ensure that consent is obtained in a compliant manner, create a workflow that obtains consent before collecting the data.
Another requirement of GDPR compliance for geolocation tracking is transparency.
Companies must provide clear and concise information about the purpose and use of geolocation data.
Furthermore, the policy must also inform individuals of the type of data collected, how it will be used, who will have access to it, and how long it will be retained.
4 – Educate Your Employees on How to Manage Collected Geolocation Data Properly
In addition to adding required GDPR related provisions, you must also educate your employees the appropriate ways to manage collected geolocation data and implications of not doing so.
Ideally, your employees should be able to comprehend what your company uses geolocation data for, and the potential risks to your customers involved.
This means training your employees on how to obtain explicit consent, how to process and store the data securely, and how to respond to requests from individuals to exercise their data protection rights.
Remember, this is an extremely important step towards complying with GDPR. After all, your employees are ultimately responsible for managing geolocation data that your company collects.
So, organize regular training and refresher courses for your employees (and rest of the staff) to ensure that they are up-to-date on GDPR compliance requirements for geolocation tracking.
5 – Ensure Third Parties Your Company Shares Geolocation Data With are Also GDPR Compliant
If your company happens to share customers’ geolocation data with third parties, such as analytics providers or advertising partners, it’s crucial to ensure that those parties are also GDPR compliant.
Before sharing geolocation data with any third party, make sure that your third-party providers also obtain explicit consent from your customers before processing their personal data and are completely transparent about it.
Alternatively, you can also consider making this entire process automated by investing in a robust CAASM solution.
What is CAASM? — It’s a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that helps to take inventory of all cyber assets in your network, monitor attack surface, identify & remediate potential threats, and ensure compliance of your third-party vendors with relevant regulations (i.e. GDPR).
CAASM does this by making sure that your third-party vendors have implemented appropriate data protection measures in accordance with GDPR regulations.
Additionally, CAASM also helps your company implement appropriate security controls and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that third-party vendors are complying with GDPR requirements.
This usually includes regular security audits, assessments, contractual obligations for data protection, and ongoing monitoring of vendor activities.
The collection of geolocation data can provide organizations with access to highly personal information about individuals, making it a valuable commodity.
However, such data collection practices can also raise concerns about privacy and potentially lead to noncompliance issues for businesses.
That’s why meeting GDPR compliance for geolocation tracking is not just important but essential for any company that collects and uses location data.
It not only ensures that the organization is in compliance with the law but also helps to build trust with customers by demonstrating a commitment to protecting their personal information.
By following these simple steps, not only you can easily achieve GDPR compliance but also demonstrate a commitment to ethical data practices that respect the privacy and dignity of their users.
James is the head of marketing at Tamoco