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I know it might sound quite bad. But here I explain the whole situation.

I'm developing a mobile application based on visiting different places. And I would store in some database (surely AWS) all different locations each user has been in. By location, I don't mean I would store coordinates, just all cities in which he/she has checked in (really no coordinate would be stored).

I've been told to be really cautious with this because of recent GDPR law.

But to be honest I know hardly anything about law and its interpretation.

So my question is if I can store this kind of information (as it is not really precise data) and if I should ask for user's explicit consent.

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    FWIW, you can read the actual law online, as well as the interpretations of the organization that created it! – immibis Mar 28 at 22:32
  • You are even allowed to be facebook under GDPR. :) – Stefano Palazzo Mar 29 at 11:13
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It seems clear that this is personal information under the GDPR. If you are subject to the GDPR, you need to have a "lawful basis" to store or process such information. (You are subject to the GDPR if you are locates in the EU, or if your users are. My understanding is that it is location at the time the app is accessed that matters, not a user's citizenship. I am not totally sure about that, however. Unless your app is limited to non-EU access, it it probably safest to comply with the GDPR)

The degree of precision of your location data will not matter -- a specific city is quite enough to make it personal data if it can be tied to a specific person.

There are various lawful bases that may be relied on for processing and storage, but explicit consent is probably the one with the widest applicability.

To use consent as the lawful basis, you must present an OPT-IN decision to the user, and record the results. If the user does nothing, the result must record lack of consent. You may not use a pre-checked consent box or another mechanism that has the effect of an opt-out choice. You should be clear about what information will be stored, and how it will or might be used.

You will also need to consider how your app will function for those who do not consent, and how to handle requests to withdraw consent.

So if an app obtains user consent to store location data in a manner that complies with the GDPR, it may store user location data. The consent should make the possible uses of the data clear. If the data is to be shared, the consent should make the possible extent of sharing clear.

Some previous questions and answers here on law.se dealing with GDPR consent that seem possibly relevant:

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    So, to make things clear as water, if the user gives consent I can store his/her locations, right? And I guess I should also let them revoke the consent given and erase all their data. Thanks! (After this response I'll accept your answer) – Sergi Mascaró Mar 28 at 17:11
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    @Sergi Mascaró Right. See my edit above. There can be valid reasons to retain data even if consent is revoked under the GDPR, but if you don't need to retain it, allowing deletion is probably simplest. Otherwise you wiull have to determine if some other lawful basis applies – David Siegel Mar 28 at 17:29
  • What do you mean with "in a manner that complies with the GDPR"? – Sergi Mascaró Mar 28 at 23:40
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    @Sergi: David gave an example of a way of seeking consent that does not comply with the GDPR: a pre-checked consent box, like "I agree to having my location stored" next to a box that already has a tick in it before the user does anything. The GDPR itself explains compliance, but this probably is not the place to dump the entire legislation. – Steve Jessop Mar 28 at 23:52
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    The main principles IIRC are that the user must take an action specifically to give consent; it must be as easy to withdraw consent later as it was to grant it initially; and consent cannot be demanded as a condition for something that doesn't require the data being consented to. So for example, you cannot stream music to someone in exchange for permission to store their location. You can, as a requirement to enable location-based services, require consent to store location data that's needed to supply those services. – Steve Jessop Mar 28 at 23:54

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