[GNC-dev] GDPR and gnucash as a project

Wm wm_o_o_o at yahoo.co.uk
Wed May 23 13:02:49 EDT 2018

On 22/05/2018 14:02, Geert Janssens wrote:
> 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.

Friends, although people "like us" take the GDPR seriously, it wasn't 
and isn't about "us".

In fact, people "like us" that are open source, small businesses 
(processing data for sometimes small commercial reasons), non-profits, 
individuals recording their accounts around the world, etc are largely 
unintended victims.

One of the things that comes to my mind is this familiar sequence

1.a) anyone that asks to be removed from the mailing list should be zapped
1.b) we've been there before, we know about the person that asks to be 
removed so they can start again
1.c) at the moment, here in the UK, we think the list address is our 
(gnucash list) stuff so we are allowed to keep it to stop a bad person 
1.d) result? we don't remove the address from our records, the GDPR 
doesn't apply, the bad person info belongs to us
1.e) i've caused a few upsets here and hopefully no-one has been worse 
than me and invokes the GDPR in order to get back onto these lists :)

other details probably aren't kept in any significant way, I mean, I 
seriously doubt anyone has been keeping stuff like

sexual orientation?
skin colour?
something else

per person on behalf of gnc [2] in any systemic way

I know some people are of a certain religion or political persuasion, I 
know some people have a first language, I know some people have some 
skills, I know I dislike some people, that is not the same, my (anyone's 
head) is not relevant.  We all have some stuff in our heads, that isn't 
what the GDPR is about.

To make it personal, I am equally sure some people *know* me.  That is 
also not relevant.

If someone was keeping generalised indicators to show we were open, used 
widely, cross border, multi-lingual and so on they should not be concerned.

At worst we might have to think about making some "who uses gnc" stuff 
more anon but we've got brains enough in this group to do that [1]

[1] do we actually have person level records?  the obvious thing is for 
whoever has them to anon, pass on, allow them to be summarised, passed 
back and checked and then flush to an anon place in case one of Donald 
Trump's Russians was involved <-- yes, it *is* compulsory, you dumb 
fucking idiots, you voted as a country, take the hit!

[2] the list, the project, not individuals [3]

[3] if I know Liz is a lady in my head, it doesn't count

I am following the legal discussions here in the UK and I think gnc will 
be waaaaaaaay at the back of the queue when it comes to bad stuff; the 
tricky bit might be the diversity of record if someone decided to be 
nasty [4] :)

[4] "remove all trace of my involvement with your project" I'm not sure 
we could do that :(  but I suspect that is an open source issue rather 
than a gnc specific one.

Geert said this was for discussion, I welcome contributions too.

I think I have a feel for the UK and European view (I welcome viewpoints 
that differ from my own)

Maybe how it is seen in other places would help the debate?


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