Privacy Policy

From OpenStreetMap Foundation


This document states the OpenStreetMap privacy policy applicable to OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF) activities. In particular, these activities include:

  • the website and associated services and APIs,
  • the OpenStreetMap data distribution,
  • the OpenStreetMap wiki and help sites, and
  • the OpenStreetMap mailing lists and forums.

It describes what personal information we may be gathering from you, who can see this information, and what options you have for controlling this. We value your privacy and strive to achieve a balance between the legitimate interests of the OpenStreetMap project and your interests and rights.

This document is mainly intended for OpenStreetMap contributors, if you are not an OpenStreetMap contributor, but are using services provided by the OSMF, we believe the Data we receive automatically section will be most relevant for you.

As the OSMF has many legacy systems and practices that have currently not been fully reviewed and documented, it is possible that a subject of particular interest to you has not been covered yet or is inaccurately described. Please see the contact section, below, to reach us if you have any such questions or believe that you have found a discrepancy. As we will be updating this document regularly to reflect our better understanding of these issues, please check from time to time for updates.

OpenStreetMap developers, contributors and related companies will often use the OpenStreetMap name and logo to set up groups or services on third-party web sites. For example, there might be a Facebook page, a Google Plus page, a Slack channel, a page on Xing or LinkedIn, a Meetup group, and so on. The privacy practices of such services are outside of OSMF's control and might be located in countries with different data protection rules. Data you share on these platforms cannot, therefore, be covered by this policy. Please refer to the privacy policies of those third-party services.

Why do we store and process personal data?

The purpose of the OpenStreetMap project and the OSMF is to provide open geographic data, such as street maps, to anyone.

To fulfill the goal of distributing data that is truly open, untethered by rights of third parties and of high quality, we do not support anonymous contributions and retain additional, non-geographic, data on a legitimate interest basis (see GDPR article 6.1f ), to enable:

  • identifying all the contributions made by an account,
  • contacting the contributor in the case of questions in respect to the nature and source of the contributions,
  • detecting, removing and correcting spam accounts, vandalism, and violations of the rights of third parties,
  • facilitating the communication between OpenStreetMap contributors, and
  • researching and analysing aggregate contributions to improve or prioritise OSMF services, such as evaluating mapping efficacy, map completeness, and determining if locations or mappers are disproportionately represented.

What data do we store and process?

Data from contributions to OpenStreetMap

Besides the geographic data contributed (points lines, and areas with associated attributes and GPS trace data), and communications related data (diary posts and comments, the user page, changeset comments, and messages) we store

  • editing session meta-data. For example comments added by the user, any version and similar information added by the editing application, which editing application and which aerial imagery layers where used.
  • user id and login name of the author of every change to an object and a timestamp indicating when that change occurred.
  • the e-mail address associated with your account,
  • any blocks the user has received and associated messages, and
  • network access data (example IP addresses) for the systems and services operated by the OSMF. see Data we receive automatically .

OSMF Membership Data

The full personal name and residential address of members of the organisation according to the Companies Act are, by law, required to be added to the OSMF register of members. Terminating membership does not lead to the entry being deleted. Associate members are not required to provide their full details and the information can be deleted if membership is terminated. Payment details for both classes of members are retained for accounting purposes as long as required by law. The processing of this data is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation (see GDPR article 6.1c).

More details on OSMF membership options can be found on

Conference and Event Registration Data

Some events organized by the OSMF require prior registration to be able to participate, most notably our annual State of the Map conference. This data is required to verify payment of entry fees, planning of venues, catering and scheduling of talks and presentations and is visible to the group organizing the event. The processing of this data is necessary for the performance of a contract (see GDPR article 6.1b).

Personal Data from Your Communications with OpenStreetMap

Personal data such as your name and contact information submitted as a result of communicating with OpenStreetMap, joining mailing lists, participating in the forum, or requesting information is retained to facilitate our ability to correspond with you.

Who has access to the data

We do not share email addresses associated with accounts with any third party and they are only accessible to operations and working group personnel who have signed confidentiality agreements. User-to-user messages are visible to the sender and the recipient; other access is limited to our operations staff and only if required for operational reasons, to enforce our acceptable use policies, to fulfil any legal obligations, and, most notably, to prevent spam.

Similarly, network access data is only used to support network operations and access is limited to operating personnel performing operational tasks and to combat vandalism and minimize spam.

The remainder of the personal data collected by us is made available, depending on the use case, via the website, via the editing API and from our data dumps, to users with accounts who are logged in.

To reduce the distribution of the non-geographic information we offer our data dumps with and without the additional personal data. Entities that require and process the additional data can register with the OSMF and you can find contact information for them here: Registered data controllers. We do not contract with them, and any processing of the data carried out by such entities is done on their own behalf.

Where do we store the data

Personal data other than any associated with a tile request (for instance, IP addresses and request details) is stored in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Backups are stored in the EU.

Map tiles are provided by a global network of cache servers; which tile server your browser or app accesses is determined by the operation of the content distribution network at the time of the request.

How can you control the processing of your data and reduce privacy related issues

While not required by law, we provide the following mechanisms to reduce the exposure of your personal data:

  • you can select a non-identifying login name and change it at will,
  • you are not required to include personal data in diary posts, comments, email listserv, the wiki, or other OSM communications methods, and you may delete diary posts at any time through your account,
  • you can request that your account be deleted (restrictions apply, see below) and this will be conveyed to registered entities that are utilizing your personal data.

You should not enable gravatar support or use an e-mail address you have associated with a gravatar if privacy is a concern.

You can further reduce exposure by not adding personal information to the map data (personal names and such) that you submit. Such information is in general not considered to be a useful addition to our data and you should refrain from adding it.

Right to Object

You have a right to object against processing based on legitimate interests of the data controller.

Detailed Information

GPS Trace Data

The uploading of GPS data is entirely optional and not a prerequisite for contributions to OpenStreetMap. If you do submit GPS data, it is uploaded in the form of individual GPX files. These are kept as raw files, as well as being imported into the database. GPX files can be marked "public" by the uploader; this is completely unrelated to the option of making one's edits "public".

When GPS data for an area is downloaded via the API, no indication is provided of which user uploaded a point or of the timestamp that is associated with the point. Points are, however, returned in timestamp order. GPS data downloaded in this way will include points from traces which were not marked as public.

If a GPS trace is marked as public when it is uploaded then the raw trace may be downloaded from the web site or by using an API call. In this case the user's display name is shown (regardless of whether the user has made their edits public or not) and the timestamps in the GPX file will be included. Also, any additional information placed in the GPX file will still be present, e.g., waypoints with their names and/or notes entered, associated symbols, elevation data, etc. You should remove any such information from the data and trim enough information from the beginning and the end of the trace to obscure the start and destination of it before uploading it if you have privacy concerns.

Map Data

All edits made to the map are recorded in the database with the user ID of the user making the change, and a timestamp at the time of change upload. In general all of this information is also made available to everyone via the website, including links to allow everyone to easily cross-reference which user has made which edit.

Editing programs (such as JOSM and iD) can store further data in the database that may be relevant to your privacy. Please refer to the respective authors and distributors of the programs for more information. For example, iD and JOSM may add the language settings of your device to the metadata of each changeset and the make and operating system of the device may be visible from the transmitted version strings.

User 'home' location

If a user sets a home location then it will appear on the "nearby mappers" list for other people with a home location near the user's home location. This is an option on your account settings page.

Email Addresses

The registered email address for an OSM user account will never intentionally be published on the internet anywhere, shared with third party organisations, or revealed directly to other users. Email addresses will be used by the server to notify the user if another user has sent a message through the website, and for other system generated notifications.

Only System Administrators will have direct access to email address data associated with the OSM account. It may be used by these people to contact users directly about their edits or other OpenStreetMap-related issues.

Email addresses associated with wiki, forum and help site accounts are stored separately from the OSM user account data in the respective systems. These address are used for notifications and user-to-user communication (if enabled). These addresses are not publicly visible or shared with third parties, but may be visible to the administrators of the systems.

Note that some other types of Accounts used by developers/community do expose email address information more publicly (due to technical limitations of the software used, rather than policy decisions). The Trac system exposes your email address in plaintext on the page if the email address (rather than the display name) is used to login. The mailing list system exposes email addresses of people posting messages to everyone who receives the message, as well as in the archive web pages. If you want to post to the list, the system also requires you to register with your proper 'from' address, not a forwarding address.


The website supports the display of Gravatars, these are retrieved from by generating a globally unique key from your e-mail address. Our website software will check on the initial signup and on every email address change if you have a Gravatar for the new address and start displaying it if one exists. You can stop this behaviour by explicitly turning Gravatar support off in your account settings. You should be aware that, if a Gravatar is displayed, the key can be used to track your account over any website that has Gravatar support.

Data you may voluntarily add to your profile or diary posts

You are not required to fill out your profile or make diary posts. By voluntarily entering personal data in your user profile or diary posts, you consent to that information being publicly available and stored by OSMF as long as you maintain an OSM account. You may edit your public profile or your diary posts at any time to remove such information if you change your mind.

Personal data we receive automatically

The OSMF operates a number of services for the OpenStreetMap community, examples are the website, the "Standard" style online map, the OSM API and the nominatim search facility.

When you visit an OSMF website, access any of the services via a browser or via applications that utilize the provided APIs, records of that use are produced, we collect information about your browser or application and your interaction with our website, including (a) IP address, (b) browser and device type, (c) operating system, (d) referring web page, (e) the date and time of page visits, and (f) the pages accessed on our websites.

Further we may operate user interaction tracking software that will generate additional records of user activity, for example Piwik.

Additionally, OSMF may engage third party service providers to assist in the delivery of services to the OpenStreetMap community. Those third party service providers may gather personal data in connection with the provision of services. For example, Content Distribution Networks (a “CDN”) may use Geo-DNS or similar mechanisms to allocate load to geographically distributed servers and could potentially generate a record of your location at a large scale. See Third party provided services and data below

These records are used or can be used in the following ways:

  • in support of the operation of the services from a technical, security and planning point of view.
  • as anonymised, summarised data for research and other purposes. Such data may be offered publicly via or other channels and used by 3rd parties.
  • to improve the OpenStreetMap dataset. For example by analysing nominatim queries for missing addresses and postcodes and providing such data to the OSM community.

The data collected on the systems will be accessible by the system administrators and the appropriate OSMF working groups, for example the Data Working Group. No personal information or information that is linked to an individual will be released to third parties, except except to the extent the third party is a service provider or as required by law. See Third party provided services and data below.

IP addresses stored by Piwik are shortened to two bytes and detailed usage information is retained for 180 days.

Given the temporary nature of this storage, it is generally not feasible for us to provide access to IP addresses or the logs associated with them.

The above mentioned data is processed on a legitimate interest basis (see GDPR article 6.1f ).

Third party provided services and data

We may share personal data with vendors or agents working on our behalf for the purposes described in this privacy policy. For example, we may hire companies to assist with protecting and securing our systems or services, increasing their efficiency, and to support the OSMF activities described herein. For instance, OSMF recently engaged a CDN provider to allocate demand generated by OSM users efficiently across a global network.

Any vendor or agent that we retain must comply with our data privacy and security requirements and this privacy policy and are not allowed to use personal data they receive from us for any other purpose other than to provide the services requested by OSMF. Like us, they will never barter, trade, or sell access to your personal data. We remain responsible and liable under data protection laws if third-party agents we engage to process personal data on our behalf do so in a manner inconsistent with the applicable data protection laws, unless we prove that we are not responsible for the event giving rise to the damage.

Unrelated Third-Party-Providers of Services and Data

Some sites or services provided by OSMF may be linked with third party applications or websites that provide content or services that is unrelated to OSMF. Such third party applications or websites are not associated with OSMF and personal data collected by them is not covered by the terms of this privacy policy. You will need to refer to the respective third party provider of such content or services for more information about how they handle personal data collected by them. Using these services will typically transmit at least your Internet address and browser information to the operator.

Some such unrelated third-party providers are:

Communication via OSMF provided Systems

The OSM community uses a number of channels for public and inter-personal communication. Some of the systems are operated and controlled by third parties and can be located in countries other than the UK. You will need to refer to the respective service providers for more information.

These 3rd party operated systems are:

  • Mailboxes for the OSMF e-mail addresses are provided by Google LLC, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043. USA
  • IRC channels on the OFTC network
  • openstreetmap Organisation and source code repositories on Github

By using those systems that are provided by the OSMF, for example the messaging system on, you agree to your communications being intercepted by OSMF system managers when necessary to address operational issues, to enforce our acceptable use policies, most notably to prevent spam, and to fulfil any legal obligations.

You should be aware of the above when communicating sensitive information and you should employ encryption to protect your communications content.

Account Removal

You can request your account to be removed and we will honor such requests as far as possible.

If you have not actively contributed to the project we will not retain any records, user page, diary posts and similar will be removed.

If you have contributed your account will be renamed to user_USERID and contributions and changeset comments will be retained with this name, diary entries and your user page will be removed. Since we do not allow anonymous edits we will non-publicly retain your email address in case you need to be contacted with respect to your contributions.

Wiki and forum accounts will be renamed to a pseudo-anonymous name, but otherwise will remain as is. You can unsubscribe yourself from any mailing lists, however you need to realize that personal copies held by the recipients of any mails you sent to the lists and the archives on cannot be removed.

In your request for account removal you need to identify all accounts that are affected as we do not have information on which accounts belong to which OpenStreetMap id.


Numerous OSMF-operated services use cookies to store information on your login and site navigation state. We also use cookies and similar technologies to recognize and improve your use of our websites. You may delete cookies from your computer, and most browsers provide the option to block them. If you block cookies placed by us (first party cookies), you will not be able to access parts of the OSMF websites and services that require a login. However, your access to our websites will not be affected if you disable cookies placed by third parties.

Other Relevant Policies

As well as privacy issues, users and contributors must also be aware of the OpenStreetMap License. This includes disclaimers. We also have an Acceptable Use Policy covering various types of server usage.


If you have questions or concerns with respect to this policy, please contact the OSMF via our Contact channels.

If you believe that we hold information that would allow us to correct, amend, or delete inaccurate information about you or if you believe that information about you has been processed in violation of this privacy policy please email us at . Note that you may change your username, email associated with your account, and ‘home’ location through your account without contacting the OSMF.