The DB Navigator app is indispensable for rail passengers. But now a data protection association is accusing Deutsche Bahn of violating applicable data protection guidelines with the app – and has announced a lawsuit.
Every day, millions of rail passengers use Deutsche Bahn’s DB Navigator app to buy their train ticket or find out about delayed trains. The problem is that they disclose more personal data than necessary. At least that’s how the data protection association Digitalcourage sees it. It criticizes the app for spying on rail passengers and forwarding their personal data without permission. Whether the accusations are justified is now to be determined in a lawsuit.
Does DB Navigator have a data protection problem?
The DB Navigator app requires the entry of personal data in many cases. For example, to purchase a train ticket. Travelers must specify how many people are traveling with them, whether children are included, and when arrival and departure are to take place. It is understandable that this data is forwarded to Deutsche Bahn. But data protection experts are critical of the fact that the name of the mobile phone user and statistics on app use are also transmitted. DB Navigator is full of trackers, says Digitalcourage. Specifically, the association refers to around a dozen tracking tools – such as marketing solutions from the providers Adobe and Adform, which are hidden in DB Navigator.
Accusations are not new
Stiftung Warentest takes a similar view. Although the transfer of personal data is required when using the app, this is regularly done without the user’s consent. Furthermore, Stiftung Warentest criticizes the transfer of personal data to Adform. This could not be avoided even with the selection “Only required cookies”. Deutsche Bahn contradicts the accusations. In a press release, it says that the forwarding would serve exclusively to “ensure the app’s functions and stability.” In addition, the data would only be passed on in pseudonymous form, and use for marketing purposes would be ruled out.
Digitalcourage announces legal action
In April 2022, Digitalcourage issued an ultimatum to Deutsche Bahn. It was to remedy the deficiencies by July 1, 2022 – otherwise legal action would be taken. This deadline has now passed. Deutsche Bahn has already announced that it does not intend to revise the DB Navigator app. Digitalcourage reacted and announced a lawsuit. A court will decide whether the DB Navigator app actually has a data protection problem.