Limitations on mapping private information

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This page is under development (May 2020). It may not yet reflect community consensus.

The freedom to map the world in OpenStreetMap has limitations where it violates the privacy of people living in this world.

As an international project, we should respect personal information as well as the consensus in the community about them.

OpenStreetMap has no method to record individual agreements to publish particular personal data. Such data would not be verifiable anyway, so even with an individual agreement to publish it would not fit OpenStreetMap.

Therefore, some rules are:

  • Do not map where individual people live, in particular do not add the names of inhabitants to dwellings.
  • OpenStreetMap is not a property registry, thus do not map individual ownership of buildings or plots. There is no need to split residential landuse into individual plots. (Compare Parcel.)
  • OpenStreetMap is not a phone book. Do not map contact data of individuals. For mapped businesses and offices that are on public record, adding contact information is accepted.
  • Do not name individuals in OpenStreetMap tags, unless their name is on a business sign posted towards the street, or part of the business name and available in public records.
  • Do not map the personal behaviour, preferences and habits of individuals.
  • Limit the detail of mapping private backyards. As a guideline, permanently installed private swimming pools, or some structure of a semi-public garden appear to be the borderline of being acceptable. Add access=private as appropriate.
  • Do not map the personal possession of private objects or their location (like vehicles, TV-sets, washing machines); tags for such should be limited to communal use, e.g. a laundry facility on a camp site.
  • Do not map personal private indoor facilities, like showers and toilets in private apartments/houses.
  • Mapping private buildings, private roads (including driveways), private parking is considered as completely acceptable. Add access=private as appropriate to roads, parkings etc.

See also

This page is about respecting the privacy of individuals being mapped. Regarding the data of OpenStreetMap users, members and website visitors, see the Privacy Policy.