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What are the Different Types of Consent?

By Anas Baig | Reviewed By Maria Khan
Published July 24, 2023 / Updated December 13, 2023

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Consent is one of the most paramount responsibilities of organizations to stay in compliance with global privacy regulations. This may come as a challenge for these organizations as data collection is constantly growing and keeping track of every customer consent can be a struggle if done through manual methods. This article will discuss the different types of consent and what organizations can do in order to simplify this process.

Types of Consent

If we look at the literal definition of consent it is merely the “permission or agreement for something to happen”. Honoring this may seem like an easy task, but considering the different types of laws for different types of consent, it becomes difficult and complex to understand and operationalize. We have broken down consent into six different types.

Informed consent is the act of obtaining consent after informing the individual of all the possible outcomes and consequences of granting consent. “To be informed, consent must be given by persons who are competent to consent, have voluntarily consented, are fully informed about the research, and have comprehended what they have been told” (Chambliss and Schutt 2010, pp.57-8). Unless they are emancipated minors, (depending on the legal age in said country), individuals under 18 may never give consent.

Also there is the topic of  legal competence, for example people affected by mental illness, or institutionalized in the prison system. If a person is not competent legally to give consent, a parent or legal guardian has to give it. The participant may only give assent.

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Participation in a certain situation is sometimes considered proof of consent. This is acceptable for research studies that provide anonymity, such as opinion surveys. This may not always be applicable in marketing activities because privacy regulations, especially in the EU, ask marketers to capture either opt-in or opt-out consent. Outside of certain exceptions, "implied consent" could lead to non compliance.

Explicit consent, known as direct or express consent, is when an individual is presented with a decision on whether they authorize the collection, use, and/or disclosure of their personal information before data is collected.

Explicit consent is required by global privacy regulations when an organization wants to process a consumers data leveraging consent as a lawful basis. This requires disclosing what is being collected and for what purpose to be clear and documented. Explicit consent can be provided in both oral or writing forms.

Active consent refers to a consumer being given a specific statement to agree on and they show their consent by "actively" agreeing. This can be defined as another form of explicit consent.

Passive consent can be seen as another type of implied consent where the consumer is assumed to have consented unless they explicitly state otherwise. This again can not be acceptable if an organization is looking to comply with privacy regulations where explicit consent is required

Opt-out consent is the ability to decline consent at any point. For example, you visit a website that clearly gives you an option to decline your consent. If the consumer proceeds further without clearly declining the consent, consent is granted. This type of consent is usually done in writing.

Many organizational websites incorporate opt-out consent to use your personal information for other purposes.

Businesses tend to favor opt-out consent because it requires an action to be taken by the customers in order to stop marketing to them. Many individuals fail to read the text and permissions and are far more likely to give consent for purposes that would benefit an organization.

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Obtaining consent is one of the most important requirements in data privacy regulation, although, fulfilling this requirement using manual methods can be costly, tedious and prone to human error. With the help of the PrivacyOps framework, organizations can automate their consent lifecycle in the following ways:

  • Scan and classify cookies
  • Optimized front-end for global traffic performance
  • Integrate with your dev pipeline to initiate periodic scans and update classification automatically
  • Dynamically display different languages depending on visitor browser settings
  • Honor opt-outs by automatically blocking non-essential cookies without additional coding
  • Dynamically update your privacy notice
  • Maintain comprehensive records of consent for auditing and reporting
  • Customize and style the look & feel to align with your brand
  • Reverse IP detection to present the appropriate compliance type for global compliance

Given the increase in frequency of consent enforcements, these data privacy regulations will only get tougher as time goes by. It’s wise to invest in automation from an early stage of the compliance process and bolster a business for all existing and upcoming global data privacy regulations.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Importance of Consent: Consent is crucial for organizations to comply with global privacy regulations, but tracking it manually can be challenging due to the expanding scope of data collection.
  2. Types of Consent:
    • Informed Consent: Obtained after informing individuals about potential outcomes. Legal guardians may consent for minors.
    • Implied Consent: Participation in a situation implies consent, often used in research but may not comply with privacy regulations.
    • Explicit Consent: Direct permission granted before data collection, required by global privacy laws.
    • Active Consent: Consumers actively agree to specific statements, another form of explicit consent.
    • Passive Consent: Assumes consent unless explicitly declined, may not suffice for privacy compliance.
    • Opt-Out Consent: Allows individuals to decline consent, commonly used on websites, but may lead to unintended consent due to lack of awareness.
  3. Challenges of Manual Methods: Manual consent tracking is costly, tedious, and prone to errors, necessitating automation for efficiency and accuracy.
  4. Benefits of PrivacyOps Framework: Automating consent lifecycle through PrivacyOps framework offers various benefits, including:
    • Scan and classify cookies
    • Optimize front-end for global traffic
    • Integrate with dev pipeline for automatic updates
    • Display multiple languages based on visitor settings
    • Honor opt-outs by blocking non-essential cookies
    • Update privacy notice dynamically
    • Maintain comprehensive consent records for auditing
    • Customize appearance to align with brand
    • Utilize reverse IP detection for global compliance types.
  5. Investment in Automation: Given the increasing frequency of consent enforcement, investing in automation early in the compliance process is prudent to prepare for evolving global data privacy regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In data protection, explicit and informed consent is often considered the most common and robust type of consent. It requires individuals to provide clear and specific permission to process their data.

There are various types of consent, including explicit consent, implied consent, opt-in consent, and opt-out consent. The type of consent required depends on the context and applicable data protection laws.

Explicit consent is when individuals provide clear and unambiguous permission, often through a written statement or an affirmative action while Implied consent is inferred based on the actions or inaction of the individual.

Opt-in consent requires users to explicitly and actively agree to the collection, processing, or sharing of data, demanding clear information and affirmative action. On the other hand opt-out consent operates on the assumption that user consent is granted by default, only requiring action if users choose to withdraw or decline it.

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