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What is Consent Management Platform (CMP) & Why Do You Need It?

By Privacy Research Team
Published May 5, 2023 / Updated August 23, 2023

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It’s been common practice for businesses to sell their consumers’ personal information like age, gender, likes, hobbies, where they study, etc. without their consent to marketers. In turn, marketers use this information to show consumers targeted ads. While this sounds harmless, the fact that an individual’s personal information is being passed around like a commodity is the reason why privacy laws such as the CCPA and GDPR have come into effect.

The GDPR has made it mandatory for organizations to ask consumers for consent before selling any part of their personal information. On the other hand, the CCPA requires organizations to provide its consumers the option to object to the sale of their personal data by displaying a button stating “Do Not Sell my Personal Information”.

These laws need to be followed strictly and failure to do so can result in drastic repercussions, as happened with the Cambridge Analytica incident where 50 million Facebook accounts were used for psychological profiling to assist Donald Trump in the 2016 elections. This was done without the consumers being aware and was a massive breach of consent by Facebook. Facebook was said to pay a fine of $633,000 for this breach.

Therefore, setting up a robust consent management system is empirical for any organization intending to process its consumers’ data. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. This article will talk about why a consent management platform is important and how the adoption of an efficient CMP can prepare any business for compliance with existing and upcoming data privacy regulations.

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When is User Consent Required?

Before we move on, let’s first look at how leading privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA define consent management.

Under the GDPR, consent is one of the lawful basis of data processing. Article 7 states that “Consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous”. This requires that an individual’s consent must be given voluntarily without any pressure or influence that could affect his or her choice. Moreover, an individual must have the ability to withdraw his/her consent at any time, without any detriment. Such withdrawal of consent must be as easy as giving consent.

The law under the CCPA is more commonly known as the right to opt-out which states that “Consumers have the right—at any time—to direct businesses that sell personal information about the consumer to third parties to stop this sale”. However, organizations must provide the option to opt-out of the sale of personal data to its customers by displaying a button stating “Do Not Sell my Personal Information”. This falls under section 1798.120 of the CCPA. The CCPA also requires businesses to record an opt-in consent from minor consumers and consumers who allow the collection, processing and sale of their data in return for a financial incentive.

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What is a CMP and Why Do You Need it?

Websites use a consent management platform – or “CMP” – to obtain users' consent to process their personal data, which is obtained through cookies and trackers on the domain. Managing director of It Works Media, Steve Pritchard, explained how a consent management platform works in the case of a corporate website. “A CMP is used to inform visitors about the types of data they’ll collect and what they will use it for. They store visitor consent data and deal with visitors’ requests to make alterations about the data the website has collected about them, including requests to access and erase this data. It is a necessary platform for websites to meet EU regulations for data collection”.

The reason why a CMP is so useful is that it makes consent management processes smoother, easier, and more efficient. An effective and privacy-compliant CMP must have the following features:

Enable Notification of Consent Capture

In principle, all privacy regulations agree that consent must be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. This implies that the data subject must at least be aware of the controller’s identity, what kind of data will be collected and processed, how it will be used, and the purpose of the processing operations. While businesses are building new capabilities into their forms, mobile apps, and websites to enable consent capture, having a solution for notification and consent capture immensely simplifies this requirement.

Proliferating and Sharing Data

Websites and businesses collect and store identifiers such as IP addresses, device IDs, location data, and cookies, which are now considered personal data. This information is shared or leaked to various advertising and marketing platforms to provide value-added services. Therefore, it is essential that platforms involved in this process notify and obtain consent from their users before collecting and processing their data. Consent propagation must be supported and managed.

Associating Given Consent to a Specific User or Identity

This is easier said than done since most businesses have personal data scattered around multiple systems or silos, with different identities for the same user in different processes and environments. An enterprise-wide view of data and identity is essential for effective consent management.


Most businesses undertook a flurry of consent capture and re-consent efforts to meet GDPR deadlines but ended up with solutions that act as static databases for consent frameworks and preferences. Without the ability to link consent to identities, consent is once again scattered around silos with multiple instances of consent for a single user. This makes opt-out and consent withdrawal decisions very difficult to implement across the organization. Therefore, operationalizing consent management is a critical requirement for consent management solutions.

How Does Consent Management Platform Work?

While an effective CMP makes it easier for an organization to comply with its regulatory obligations, it’s important to understand that different organizations have different methodologies and by extension, different attitudes towards consent. Hence, most organizations’ needs from their CMP will be different from others in the market.

As a result, there are different CMP software solutions available in the market that cater to various specific and often, unique needs of organizations. Differences between the various options may include ease of use, price, functionalities, and overall support.

However, most CMP solutions will most likely operate in the same way. This includes:

  • Consent: Secondly, the most important reason for a CMP to be deployed. Each visiting user is presented with a consent banner that informs them about the data processing activities and requests their consent;
  • Integration: The first step is appropriately integrating the CMP solution within an organization’s website, mobile app, or other digital platforms where personal data is collected;
  • Consent Options: An extension of the aforementioned step, users are given the choice of what type of data processing they consent to. These include different purposes such as analytics, marketing, or personalized advertising;
  • Consent Management: Each user’s preference is recorded, stored, and maintained. The user can then modify their consent preferences at any time or withdraw it entirely;
  • Compliance:  The documentation and maintenance of users’ consent allow for compliance with data obligations by establishing an auditable trail of consent-related activities.
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What is Important When Choosing a CMP?

Although most consent management platforms get the job done, there are certain things that you need to look for in a CMP to make sure it is exactly what you are looking for.

Policy Notification and Collection of Consent

The process of effective consent management always begins with the right notifications. First off, users must be informed that their personal data is being processed. Detailed information about the scope of data processing must be included in the Privacy Policy, in a pop-up notice, or both. Users must be empowered to decide if they agree to the specific purpose of processing. Consent must be captured and consolidated. Key consent management capabilities include:

1. Privacy Center

  • Creating, maintaining, and publishing the organization’s privacy mission statement while engaging with their customers to articulate how and why they collect and process their personal data.
  • Highlighting their commitment towards privacy and building trust.

2. Website Scanning and Cookie/Form-based Consent Management

  • Periodically scanning websites to know which cookies are dropped through the website and including those in cookie consent banners.
  • Providing tools to integrate cookie consent capture and management into web pages.
  • Providing tools to integrate form-based consent capture into web pages.

Propagation Management

The CMP should simplify the notification, collection, and propagation of consent to approved 3rd party solutions to meet business objectives. Key capabilities should include:

1. Adherence to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) framework

  • Consent banner notification that lets users select companies with whom the publisher can share data.
  • Enable websites to pass user’s consent decisions down the supply chain.

2. Improve accessibility to consent data

  • Push (webhooks) or Pull (API) based flexibility to make consent accessible to internal business applications so that they can make the appropriate decisions while processing personal information.

Map and Correlate

1. Collect, normalize and aggregate consent from multiple sources.

2. Correlate multiple consent actions by the same data subject

  • Link consent to identity.
  • Provide an enterprise-wide view of consent based on identity and identity categories (customers, employees, vendors, temporary users, etc.).

3. Evaluate policies from a central location

  • Detect data that is collected or retained without explicit consent.
third party vendors

Track, Govern and Manage Consent

A CMP should enable and comply with a consumer’s request to opt-out or withdraw consent to the processing or sale of personal data.

1. Consent management portal

  • Tools to manage consent globally through a hosted page. Ability to propagate decisions to internal business applications.
  • Cookie consent through on-demand consent banner.

2. Integrate consent management into data maps and business process flow diagrams

  • Incorporate consent management into data maps.
  • Incorporate consent decisions into records of processing activity to satisfy GDPR Article 30 requirements.

3. Single Identity Dashboard

  • Visualize consent for each data subject in a single, comprehensive dashboard which includes visualization of PD data processed within the organization for that user and consent validity.

Consent Management Platform Checklist

If you want to know whether your CMP is up to the mark and has all the capabilities necessary to operate efficiently, we have drafted a checklist to help you figure out if your CMP is the one.

1. Duty to Provide Information

  • Notify users on how you are using cookies or other technologies.
  • Explain the purpose of your cookies and why they are performing these tasks.
  • Include this info in an easy to read, find and understand Privacy Policy.

2. Consent

  • Obtain your the users’ valid consent to store a cookie and other similar tracking technologies on their device.

3. Setting cookies

  • Collect and process data with cookies only with valid consent.

4. Legally compliant documentation

  • Document and store consent received from users.

5. Opt-out and Opt-In

  • The objection and acceptance must be as simple.


Consent is one of the most, if not the most, important data privacy requirements worldwide. Fulfilling this regulation using manual methods is tedious, costly and risky. Adopting the PrivacyOps framework can help the organization in the following ways:

  • Build customized consent collection methods to gather and record consent from a variety of locations including websites, web-forms, SaaS applications and consent databases.
  • Use pre-built consent workflow templates to sync consent statuses across 3rd party systems.
  • Honor consent revocations easily from offline or non-primary channels.
  • Customize the preference center based on functionality, branding and user interaction requirements.
  • Visualize consent at the visitor and organizational level using intuitive, easy-to-use dashboards.

Given the increased frequency and severity of enforcement around consent violations, it is wise to invest in automation at an early stage of the compliance process and prepare your organization for data privacy regulations around the world - not just the existing ones but also those that are upcoming.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A Consent Management Platform (CMP) is a software solution designed to facilitate the collection, management, and tracking of user consent for data processing activities. It enables organizations to comply with data protection regulations by providing users with clear and transparent options to grant or deny consent for various types of data processing.

Whether you need a Consent Management Platform depends on your organization's data processing activities and the regulatory requirements you must adhere to. If your organization collects and processes user data, especially sensitive data, in accordance with data protection laws such as GDPR, implementing a CMP can help ensure compliance and build trust with users.

The consent management process involves several steps:

  • Notice: Inform users about the data processing activities.
  • Choice: Offer users the option to grant or deny consent.
  • Consent Collection: Collect and record users' consent preferences.
  • Documentation: Maintain records of obtained consents.
  • Managing Preferences: Allow users to modify their consent choices.
  • Renewal and Withdrawal: Enable users to renew or withdraw consent at any time.

CMP in GDPR refers to a Consent Management Platform that helps organizations comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by facilitating the proper collection, documentation, and management of user consent for data processing activities.

The purpose of consent management is to empower individuals with control over their personal data. It ensures that organizations obtain informed and explicit user consent before processing their data. Consent management also aids organizations in meeting legal obligations, building transparency, and fostering trust with users.

Benefits of a Consent Management Platform include:

  • Compliance: Ensuring adherence to data protection regulations.
  • Transparency: Providing clear information to users about data processing.
  • User Trust: Building trust through transparent consent practices.
  • Efficiency: Streamlining the consent collection and management process.
  • Documentation: Maintaining accurate records of consent.
  • Flexibility: Allowing users to modify or withdraw consent easily.
  • Risk Mitigation: Reducing the risk of non-compliance and potential penalties.

Note: Specific features and benefits of a Consent Management Platform may vary based on the provider and the needs of your organization.

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