On Monday, the Article 29 Working Party released its new Opinion on geo-location data collection and processing in smart mobile devices. The paper comes on the heels of a recent furor over the extent to which smart phones collect, process and transmit location data without the full knowledge and consent of the phone’s users. It represents the first collective response by European regulators to the concerns raised by those revelations.
As well as confirming that location data on smart mobile devices is personal data, and potentially even sensitive data, the paper marks out “best practices” seen by the Working Party as fully compliant with the EU’s data protection regime. Examples include:
- As well as clearly requesting user consent for the use of location data, smart phone applications should display an on-screen icon to remind users that location data is being collected and transmitted;
- Location data from such devices should be retained for a maximum period of 24 hours;
- Data subjects must be informed in advance of any application that “phones home” geo-location data, and the reason for which they are transmitting the data;
- WiFi base-station owners must be allowed to “opt-out” of any database that has collected the location of their base stations.