GDPR - So web server logging must be disabled or masked ?

Posted May 6, 2018 2.3k views
NginxUbuntu 16.04

So, I’ve been reading about GDPR and read numerous times that having server logs with IP adresses is a GDPR breach. Now that maybe be and there may be certain situations that we might have sensitive info in logs or DB’s, but I don’t see how the IP’s in the server logs can be correlated with info which can trace back to a unique user …

Anyone know what’s the deal with GDPR and server logs ?

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3 answers

Your best bet is to inquire with an attorney as this is a legal compliance question. I’ll try and address it a bit but note that I am not a lawyer and this is not offered as legal advice.

Doing some reading on this topic indicates that there is plenty of discussion around this aspect of the GDPR. In reading I’ve found two primary opinions:

  1. That you cannot store personal information (which includes IPs) without the consent of the user (up front). This is pretty restrictive and when logs are used for many other reasons this could be troublesome.

  2. Others have said that you can maintain your logs if they are vital to your business in order to prevent fraud/abuse. In this case the data must still be handled more carefully but there is some who understand the regulations to allow this use as long as it is noted in your privacy policy.

tldr; Some people agree, some do not. Consult a lawyer to know for sure what you will need to do to be in compliance with the GDPR

Thanks for your answer .. Yes, I’ve decided to either switch off logging completely or install an nginx plugin which anonymizes the IP addresses.

Keeping logs for fraud prevention is possible indeed, however, your business must have a reason to want to prevent fraud. So, you have to have a reason to be able to do this.

I see… you mean recompile nginx from scratch? Does that by any means leave the configuration files intact? Any idea?