GDPR Series#3: Consent Management in GDPR: Best Practices for Companies

Consent Management in GDPR

Consent is a pillar of GDPR, as it protects an individual’s privacy and provides complete control over their data. In general, collecting and processing an individual’s personal data is prohibited, unless it is allowed by law or if the individual has given consent to this processing.

In this article, we look at the consent-related provisions of GDPR and the best practices to comply with them.

GDPR Provisions

Article 7 lays down the conditions for valid consent. It states that organizations must present the terms and conditions in a clear and accessible language, and the data subject must provide consent out of free will. More importantly, the individual has the right to withdraw consent at any time.

Let’s break down these provisions to better understand what they mean for your business.

Nature of Consent

GDPR states that the consent must be freely given and voluntary. It must be specific, informed, and unambiguous. In other words, your data subjects must provide consent after understanding how their data will be used and by whom. You must also provide information about automated decision-making using the collected data.

A data subject must have no pressure or obligation to provide consent. For example, though an employer may not explicitly force an employee to give consent, the employee may feel obligated to agree for fear of losing the job. This implicit force is also against GDPR provisions.

Informed Decision

If data subjects have to make informed decisions, you must provide all relevant information on who you are, why you are collecting the data, how it will be used, with whom it will be shared, and more. It’s your responsibility to provide all possible information in an unambiguous language. Be as extensive as possible to avoid legal issues.

Consent to Withdraw

A key part of consent is providing the option for the data subject to withdraw it at any time. You must have the system or process for withdrawing this consent. Moreover, you must inform the data subject about this right.

Child Consent

Article 8 of GDPR lays down the conditions for collecting consent from a child. If the child is over 16 years old, he or she can provide consent. Otherwise, an adult with parental obligation must provide consent on behalf of the minor.

Data Usage

You must use the data only for the purposes specified in the consent form. The usage must conform to Article 6 of GDPR which lays down the lawful purposes for which you can process data. More importantly, it must meet the prevailing laws of the Union and member states.

Thus, these are the GDPR provisions related to consent management.

Next, let’s look at the best practices you can follow to obtain consent.

Effective Consent Management Practices

The below best practices will help you obtain and manage consent effectively. Besides helping with GDPR compliance, it reflects your commitment to respecting individuals’ rights and safeguarding their data. In turn, it can build a strong and trust-based relationship with your stakeholders.

  • Use clear and concise language. Avoid legal jargon or complex terms and explain in simple words what data will be collected, how it will be used, and who it will be shared with.
  • Allow data subjects to consent separately to different types of data processing activities, giving them more control over how their data is used.
  • Make it straightforward for data subjects to withdraw their consent at any time, and honor such requests promptly. Put in place the required systems and processes, and provide the necessary training for your employees.
  • Maintain records of when and how you obtained consent, including the information you provided to the data subject.
  • Periodically check the validity of consent, especially if there are changes in your data processing activities.
  • Implement a double opt-in process in email marketing to confirm data subjects’ email subscriptions, ensuring explicit consent.
  • Provide a clear and easy way for data subjects to opt out of data processing activities, especially in marketing communications.
  • Collect only the data necessary for the specified purpose and avoid requesting excessive information.
  • Make sure data subjects understand their rights under GDPR, like the right to access, rectify, or erase their data.
  • Regularly audit your consent management processes to ensure compliance with GDPR and adjust practices as needed.

With the above best practices, you can be GDPR-compliant.

Final Words

In all, consent is a core tenet, and make sure you understand the provisions related to getting consent and managing it. Also, ensure that the consent information you provide covers all the processing you plan to do with the subjects’ data. More importantly, your processing must meet the Union and the member states’ laws.

In this article, we laid down some best practices, and by following them, you can ensure compliant consent management.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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