[GNC-dev] GDPR and gnucash as a project

Geert Janssens geert.gnucash at kobaltwit.be
Tue May 22 09:02:28 EDT 2018

Yesterday John raised some concerns about GDPR compliance of the gnucash 
project itself.

This is a different question from the one Mike Evans asked in April this year 
about GDPR compliance by people *using* gnucash.

This requires some thought as the GDPR has many aspects.

The essence of the GDPR (global data protection regulation) is to regulate the 
processing of EU citizen's personal data.

The first question this raises is which personal data does the gnucash project 
process ? So far I have come up with:
- e-mail addresses on the gnucash mailing lists
- user accounts in bugzilla
- user accounts in our wiki
- user accounts on Uservoice
The above are pretty clear. There are others that are less clear to me whether 
they constitute personal data or not:
- the actual messages people send to mailing lists and which are stored in a 
public archive
- the actual comments on bugs
- the actual page edits in wiki
And also what about things like our irc channel ? Does that fall under 
processing personal data ? We don't really run the irc channel, we only use 
it. But on the other hand we do publish irc logs. Does GDPR apply to those ? I 
can't tell really.
And the same question could be asked about our code itself in a way. Does a 
code contribution represent personal data ? Each commit logs an e-mail address 
of a committer which can't easily be removed.

Once we have established what constitutes personal data we need to formulate a 
"privacy policy" in which we explain how we process this data and whether 
third parties are involved (think github, uservoice, travis-ci, our social 
media presence,...).

An open source project is a bit in an odd situation because we do almost 
everything in public so there's very little being kept private. We publish 
archives of our mailing list conversations, irc logs, commits and so on. We 
have to inform our users of this in a clear manner. The good thing is we only 
do keep the absolute minimum amount of information to function: a username 
(which can be an e-mail address) and a password is usually sufficient. Unless 
the message content also falls under personal data.

We also require explicit consent to use the personal data. We're reasonably 
good in this respect as for all services we offer we require the user to opt-
in. We will never use for example mail addresses gathered from bugzilla user 
accounts to automatically enroll the same people in a mailing list. We 
probably should more clearly indicate what people subscribe to in each case 
while they are registering. So when registering for a mailing list, it should 
be pretty clear that anything the person contributes will end up on a public 
web page. The same goes for all other services we offer and make use of.

Next a person should be allowed to make corrections to the personal data we 
were provided with and "the right to be forgotten". For user accounts in the 
various services we offer this is not really a problem. Most of these do allow 
the user to change passwords, user names or e-mail addresses. However if the 
message content is also part of private data it becomes much harder. In that 
case the question becomes whether a user can request a mail message to be 
removed from our mailing list archive. I have no answer to this.

Next there is the requirement to protect children. I don't know for sure if 
this applies to us. If it does our registration processes should ask a minimum 
age and require consent of a parent or equivalent in order to continue with 
the registration. This is mostly mentioned in the context of social networks. 
But as we publish all communication in public it may apply to us as well.

And finally in case of data breaches we should inform the affected people of 
this. Again one I don't know exactly how to deal with.

This mail is meant as a kick-off to start thinking about this. Any feedback is 
very welcome.



More information about the gnucash-devel mailing list