The status quo of collecting and processing personal data is that it is prohibited. Therefore, collecting and processing personal data requires consent. However, for valid consent, it must meet specific conditions. These conditions aim to ensure citizens willfully provide consent without any coercion or force and understand what their data will be used for.
This regulation is imperative to maintain the fragile balance between information freedom and privacy concerns.
To help you better understand the conditions of consent, along with the best way for businesses to deal with them, this article covers the following topics:
- What is Consent for Data Collection and Processing?
- What are the Conditions of Consent?
- Conditions of Consent: 3 Best Practices
What is Consent for Data Collection and Processing?
There are two possible outcomes when requesting consent, it is either granted or it’s not. As a business, you must respect the individual’s choice of consent or denial, when collecting or processing data that is subject to data privacy regulations.
Typically, organizations follow the regulations provided by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure compliance as it currently represents the most comprehensive data privacy regulation. Under the GDPR, organizations must acquire consent for data activities as outlined below:
- Handling special data categories
- Data processing involving cross-border data transfers
- Personal data handling of EU or UK citizens without other legal justifications
- Collecting personal data of EU or UK citizens without other legal justifications
Nearly every business that maintains operations within the EU or the UK deals with data that requires consent. But, consent is more complicated than acquiring a blanket acceptance of personal data collection and processing. The GDPR sets specific conditions that must be met for consent to be considered valid.
What are the Conditions of Consent?
Data controllers must justify and provide proof of consent for any processing of data that requires consent. The GDPR requires that consent is freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. So, to ensure lawful data collection and processing, it is essential to understand the conditions for consent under the GDPR.
Consent is Freely Given
For consent to be considered valid, data subjects must freely provide consent. Freely given consent indicates that the choice to participate is voluntary and that it is a deliberate choice. Further, the consent to participate must be decoupled from any other parts of the agreement, so that the choice to participate is not influenced by engaging in other aspects of the agreement. Essentially, freely given consent means any data subject can deny consent without consequences.
Consent is Specific and Informed
Specific and informed consent requires that the individual is aware of who is collecting the data, the type of data being collected, and how the data is going to be used. The purpose and use of the data must be explicitly explained, easy to understand and include appropriate safeguards.
Consent is Unambiguous
Oftentimes, organizations require consent from their audience for a wide variety of matters. Consent cases can vary from signing up to an email list to agreeing on payment terms. To save time for both the consumer and the business, companies combine these consent forms into a single document with a single agreement of terms.
However, the GDPR requires consent for data collection, handling, and processing to be distinguishable, specific, and informed. This ensures citizens in the EU and UK do not agree to data collection terms simply due to the necessity to agree with other terms.
Additionally, the form used to acquire consent for data collection and processing must use easy-to-understand language with a clear form.
If any of these conditions are not met, the consent provided by the citizen or consumer is considered non-binding.
Data SubjectsCan Withdraw Consent at Any Time
While not directly applicable to acquiring consent, any individual in the EU or UK can withdraw consent to data collection, processing, and handling at any time. Data collectors and processors must clearly inform all data subjects of their right to withdraw consent. Any consent provided by a data subject without informing them of their right to withdraw consent is considered non-binding.
Despite a data subject’s right to withdraw consent, any data processing conducted before the data subject’s withdrawal of consent is still allowed. The withdrawal of consent only applies to the future processing of data.
Organizations must make it as easy to withdraw consent as it was to provide consent.
Conditions of Consent: 3 Best Practices
To help ensure you acquire valid consent that complies with all the conditions required by the GDPR, follow these three best practices:
1. Separate All Consent Forms Related to Data Activities
Instead of trying to distinguish your data consent forms from other types of consent, completely separate them this removes the risk of not distinguishing between your other forms and your data consent form. While it does slow down the user process slightly, users only need to press one extra button on your website.
2. Maintain High-Quality User Experiences on All Data Consent Forms
All of your forms related to data consent should provide the same quality of user experience as the rest of your website and consent forms. This includes your withdrawal consent forms as well. You should maintain a consistent user experience throughout your website, both consent and withdrawal of consent forms should be clear and easy to understand.
3. Uphold Consistent Records of All Data Consent Activities
Maintaining an auditable process with consistent records for all data consent gives you the necessary tools in the event of any assessed penalties. Consistent records allow you to demonstrate your compliance with all GDPR consent requirements. You can also use it as a means to document your data consent processes and improve them over time. Additionally, documented processes for data consent give you the ability to quickly adjust your processes in the event of any changes in legislation.
Almost every modern organization relies on data to make better decisions and inform the direction of business activities. But, modern data privacy laws require organizations to acquire consent before collecting, handling, and processing data. For a data subject to provide consent, specific conditions must be met to ensure they provided consent with undue coercion.
Satori’s Data Security Platform can help you maintain compliance with applicable data regulations.
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