GDPR and its Implications for Web and App Development

Published on:
January 31, 2024

Given Europe's impending privacy reform or the General Data Protection Regulation, we must all become more cautious about what data we gather, how we obtain it, and what we do with it. These privacy duties are about ethics as much as legislation in these volatile times.

Web and app developers play an important part in this. After all, good data protection practice involves both the development side — code, data, and security — and the business side — process, information, and strategy. When seeking app developers, many people overlook GDPR.

It may appear insignificant compared to development skills, cost, and technology, yet ignoring this component may be harmful. In this MarsDevs guide, we will discuss the important consequences of GDPR at a high level so that you will know where you may need to go further.

Integrating Privacy by Design

Integrating Privacy by Design

“Driving information online is like taking a sip of drink from a hydrant.” – Personal Computing Pioneer and Investor Mitchell Kapor.

Before we go deeper into the tenets of it, let’s talk about GDPR first. What is it?

The European Union implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the most stringent privacy regulation in the world. Since its implementation on May 25, 2018, GDPR has directly and continuously impacted web development.

GDPR ensures that EU residents' data is always secured when collected and processed. Even though the EU enacted it, it applies to all organizations worldwide that collect or target the personal data of EU people. Furthermore, very substantial fines are imposed as a penalty for GDPR violations.

The penalty will be €20 million or 4% of the infringing company's global sales (whichever is greater). In addition, data subjects are given the right to seek restitution for their losses. What does it mean? Integrating the “Privacy by Design” aspect of GDPR!

Personal data is any collection of information that may fairly be used to identify an individual. Beyond obvious data elements like name, SSN, email, and address, it all comes down to context. Every mobile app will acquire some personal data. As a result, one of the most visible ways GDPR will impact app development will be in the onboarding process.

You must be explicit in the app interface about how each piece of data sought will be used - and obtain permission for each usage scenario. Data that has traditionally not needed consent (e.g., IP addresses) must be evaluated.

User Consent and Transparency

User Consent and Transparency

As Marlon Brando explains, “Privacy is not something that I can associate with, but it’s an absolute prerequisite.” The European data protection reform is about giving individuals back control over their data through permission and subject access methods.

On the front end, this entails improved consent processes and user controls. Management panels, user dashboards, account settings, and privacy centers should all enable optimal management over consent settings in your projects and apps. These options must always be granular; a user must be able to exercise any facet of control over their data at any moment. 

You should provide mechanisms to enforce user consent and choice on the back end. A user creating an account for the first time should have optimum privacy settings by default; they should not have to opt-in to privacy or turn off defaults to get it.

Furthermore, consent should never be presumed from a lack of action, such as failing to check a box or create an account. Therefore, you should devise methods to inform users that they still need to supply opt-in consent to any applicable choices and options. Your back-end development process must also include timestamped evidence of a user's consent, how they provided it, and whether or not they have withdrawn it! 

Data Security and Breach Response

Data Security and Breach Response

Prioritizing data security in development is one of the primary tenets of GDPR. Many software flaws have GDPR implications. For smaller firms or those without their security staff, this means locating a scanning solution that is simple to use, quick to implement, fully automated, gives evidence that found vulnerabilities are real, and provides clear instructions on how to remedy security weaknesses. 

It also implies employing a security scanner with specialized functionality (e.g., Single-Sign-On or Pause & Resume Scans), a UI that can manage many targets, and several integration choices for bigger companies. Scanning findings free of false positives is critical for giving evidence of adherence to compliance standards for enterprises of all sizes.

In addition, it lays down principles on what to do in case of data breaches. According to GDPR, any breach must be reported to users and appropriate authorities within 72 hours. Data collectors should have a process in place to notify breaches, and this approach should involve all parties who should be notified of the breaches.

Mobile App Development and GDPR

So far, we've looked at how GDPR will affect your development workflow regarding business operations and project planning. Now, let's look at how it will affect how you code. 

1. Coding standards to follow

To create adequate data security procedures and minimize excessive data acquisition or loss, everyone in your project must use a well-defined set of code libraries, tools, and frameworks. 

As a result, as part of your GDPR compliance journey, you should compile a list of acceptable standards and procedures for development and testing. Your coding standards must be preventative. You should deactivate any hazardous modules, especially those in APIs and third-party libraries. 

2. Design requirements 

Regarding sandboxing, design requirements are essential to a GDPR-compliant development workflow. As a design process, data protection by default begins with creating with minimization in mind. Collect only the bare minimum of personal information on both the front and back end. Personal data should not be linked to other data sets housed in a single location.

Hiding and safeguarding data from unneeded user access is another part of privacy-conscious system design. Personal data should not be available in plain sight on the front or back end, and all system users should not have equal access. 

3. Testing and Maintenance

Finally, preparing for GDPR necessitates including privacy by design and data protection by default in your testing methods. These should be used in addition to current techniques such as penetration testing. Your privacy testing techniques should anticipate how unauthorized users can access actual data on your system. 

While external notifications should be considered while testing for data protection by default, remember the GDPR's golden rule: record it, or it won't happen. Your testing results and the methodology you employed to accomplish them must be documented and implemented as live documentation.


Rapidly escalating security breaches and large organizations acquiring excessive user data have become major concerns for ordinary users and governments. To address these issues, the EU passed the GDPR. If you do business in the EU or elsewhere, yet your clients are European Union citizens, your application must adhere to GDPR guidelines.

While the GDPR helps to avoid security breaches and gives consumers greater control over their data, businesses may need help to make their applications GDPR-compliant. However, these practices will benefit businesses in the long run by attracting more consumers and gaining their loyalty through honest and secure business-customer connections.

To preserve acquired data today, it is critical to prioritize transparency, consent of data subjects, and security. You need an app development partner who can meet the GDPR requirements to achieve that. At MarsDevs, we can help you create a GDPR-compliant mobile app. So, why not check us out?

Reach out today, and we will be your guide at every step!


  1. How does GDPR affect websites and apps?

GDPR has given website users and consumers more control over their data. They now have the right to know what information the company holds and if consent was obtained before storing it. They can call into question commercial practices.

  1. Does GDPR apply to apps?

The GDPR governs how an app developer can process personal data through an app. However, it does not establish guidelines for what applications can and cannot do.

  1. Do websites need GDPR?

Since the European Union (EU) implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), every company website must tell consumers about the data it collects.

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