Understanding How GDPR Affects Mobile Phone Data

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In today’s highly interconnected world, data and information travel faster than ever. Accessing a wide range of personal and business data is also easier than it was a few years ago. This has prompted institutions and government regulators to pass data privacy and security laws, such as the GDPR, to govern how data is collected and utilized by various businesses and organizations.

What is GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. It’s an EU regulation governing data privacy and protection in the European Union and the EEA (European Economic Area). GDPR was adopted in 2016 and became enforceable in 2018. It is considered one of the broadest and strictest data privacy and security laws worldwide.

In summary, this regulation aims to give all individuals in the EU and the EEA better control over their data. In other words, the GDPR applies to any entity (regardless of location) that processes personal data belonging to the covered individuals/citizens. This regulation also impacts social media marketing since it requires businesses and other data controllers to implement specific data protection requirements.

Under the GDPR:

  • Users have the right to request access to their data at any time. They can also request their data to be erased.
  • Users must be informed of their rights in simple and easy-to-understand language.
  • User data should be encrypted or tokenized to protect sensitive information in case of a data breach. Privacy settings should also meet the highest standards by default.
  • Every data controller or business should appoint a data protection officer to ensure adherence to the data privacy and protection rules.

Impact of GDPR on Mobile Devices

The number of smartphone users worldwide is estimated at 6.6 billion. This translates to about 83% of the world’s population owning a smartphone that connects to the internet and can communicate and share data with others. When GDPR went into action, businesses in the EU were required to adapt their IT practices, including those related to mobile devices.

Some of the GDPR requirements on mobile devices include:

  • Data audits – organizations must track conditions under which PII or personally identifiable information is sourced/collected, stored, and used. Organizations collecting data, ie, both structured and non-structured data, must obtain users’ consent. Regular audits are necessary to ensure compliance with these requirements.
  • Device classification and control – GDPR requires dynamic control over the organization’s operation and visibility of mobile devices. Mobile devices used to access the business network must comply with security policies regardless of ownership.
  • Mobile security – GDPR recommends a layered approach to mobile device security that grants data privacy and security to the device, operating system, users, and applications. This guards against threats while ensuring the right people have access to the right data.
  • Separating business and personal data – mobile devices connected to the organization’s network contain business and personal data. Under GDPR, online identifiers such as IP addresses, personal email accounts, and private social media data from your phone are considered PII and should not be accessed by an organization’s mobile device controller.

How to Stay GDPR-Compliant

Maintaining GDPR compliance is an ongoing process that should be implemented into the overall business strategy. Here’s how you can manage your mobile devices to ensure compliance:

  • Track and locate your mobile devices.
  • Encrypt data to boost anonymity and privacy.
  • Lock mobile devices, including those in remote locations.
  • Remotely delete data from lost or stolen devices to minimize risk exposure.

Besides the tips above, always do regular GDPR audits to avoid fines, lawsuits, and penalties. When choosing a business partner such as a cloud service provider or other outsourced services firms, ensure they are GDPR compliant. This minimizes third-party risks that could cost your business.

The Bottom Line

Managing mobile devices in the internet age and amid strict global regulations may seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. The onus is on all businesses handling user data to stick with the critical GDPR provisions and ensure compliance at all times.

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