Follow-Up on “Managing the User's Consent Life Cycle: Challenges, GDPR Compliance and (Business) Rewards”

The GDPR continues to be a hot topic for many organizations, especially for those who store and process customer data. A core requirement for compliance to GDPR is the concept of “consent,” which is fairly new for most data controllers. Coming up with GDPR is that parties processing personally identifiable information need to ask the user for his/her consent to do so and let the user revoke that consent any time and as easily as it was given.

During the KuppingerCole webinar held on April 4th, 2017 and supported by iWelcome, several questions from attendees were left unanswered due to the huge number of questions and a lack of time to answer them all.

Several questions centered around the term “Purpose,” which is key for data processing, but a lot more interesting questions came up, which we think are important to follow up here. Corne van Rooij answers some of the questions which couldn’t be answered live during the webinar.

Q: Purpose is related to your business or more generic things like Marketing, User experience Management, Research, etc.?

Corne van Rooij: Purpose is referring to “the purpose of the processing” and should be specific, explicit and legitimate. “Marketing” (or any other generic thing) is not specific enough; it should state what kind of marketing actions, like profiling or specifically tailored offerings.

Q: Is it true that data collection pure for the fulfillment of contractual obligations and selling a product doesn't require consent?

Corne van Rooij: Yes, that is true, however, keep in mind that data minimisation requires you only to collect data you will actually need to use for the fulfillment of the contract. The collection of extra data or ‘future use’ of data that is not mandatory to fulfill the contract does not fall under this and needs additional consent or another legal basis (Article 6) like “compliance with a legal obligation.“

Q: It appears consent is changing from a static to a dynamic concept.  How can a company manage numerous consent request programs and ensure the right consent is requested at the right time and in the right context?

Corne van Rooij: A very good question and remark. Consent needs its own life cycle management, as it will change over time unless your business is very static itself. The application (e.g. the eBusiness portal) should check if the proper consent is in place and trigger for consent if not, or trigger for an update (of consent or scope) if needed. If the consent status ‘travels’ with the user when he accesses the application/service, let’s say in an assertion, then the application/service can easily check and trigger (or ask itself) for consent or scope change. And register the consent back in the central place that had to send the assertion in the first place, so a close loop. Otherwise, the application can/needs to check the consent (API call) before it can act, ask consent if needed, and write it back (API call).

Q: How does the new ePR publish on the 10/1/2017 impact consent?

Corne van Rooij: The document published on 10th January 2017 is a proposal for a new E-Privacy Regulation. If it came into force in the future, it will not impact the implications of GDPR on ‘consent’ and covers other topics (so complementary) that can require consent. This new proposal updates E-Privacy issues in line with market developments and the GDPR and covers topics like cookies and unsolicited communication. It’s the update of an already existing EU Directive that dates back to 2009.

Q: If I understand it well, I can't collect any data for a first-time visitor to an eCommerce website, and I will first have to give him the possibility to identify himself in order to get into the consent flow?

Corne van Rooij: No, this is actually not true. You can collect data, e.g. based on certain types of cookies for which permission is not required (following ePR rules) and that data could be outside GDPR if you can’t trace it back to an actual individual. If you let him/her register himself for e.g. a newsletter and you ask personal information, then it falls under the GDPR. However, you might be able to stay away from asking consent if you can use another legal basis stated in article 6 for lawful processing. Let’s say a person wants to subscribe to an online magazine, then you only need the email address, and as such, that is enough to fulfill “the contract.” If you ask more, e.g. name, telephone number, etc., which you don’t actually need, then you need to use consent and have to specify a legitimate purpose.

Q: For existing user (customer) accounts, is there a requirement in GDPR to cover proof of previously given consent?

Corne van Rooij: You will have to justify that the processing of the personal data you keep is based on one of the grounds of Article 3 “Lawfulness of processing.“ If your legal basis is consent, you will need proof of this consent, and if consent was given in several steps, proof for all these consents have to be in place.

Q: Please give more detailed information on how to handle all already acquired data from customers and users.

Corne van Rooij: In short: companies need to check what personal data they process and have in their possession. They must then delete or destroy the data when legal basis for processing is no longer there, or the purpose for which the data was obtained or created has been fulfilled.

If the legal basis or the purpose has changed, the data subject needs to be informed, and new consent might be necessary.  Also, when proof of earlier given consent is not available, the data subject has to be asked for consent again.

Q: So there is no need to erase already acquired user/customer/consumer data, as long it is not actively used? - E.g. for already provisioned customer data - especially where the use of personal data had been already agreed by accepting agreements before? Is there a need to renew the request for data use when GDPR goes live?

Corne van Rooij: There is a difference in “not actively used” and “no legal basis or allowed the purpose of using it.” If it’s the latter, you need to remove the data or take action to meet the GDPR requirements. The processing which is necessary for the performance of a contract could comply with Article 6, as GDPR is for most of these things not new. There was already a lot of national legislation in place based on the EU Directive which also covers the topic of the lawfulness of processing.

Q: How long are you required to keep the consent information, after the customer has withdrawn all consents and probably isn't even your customer anymore?

Corne van Rooij: We advise that you keep proof of consent for as long as you keep the personal data. This is often long after consent is withdrawn, as companies have legal obligations to keep data under f.i. Business and tax laws.

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Privacy & the European Data Protection Regulation Learn more

Privacy & the European Data Protection Regulation

The EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), becoming effective May 25, 2018, will have a global impact not only on data privacy, but on the interaction between businesses and their customers and consumers. Organizations must not restrict their GDPR initiatives to technical changes in consent management or PII protection, but need to review how they onboard customers and consumers and how to convince these of giving consent, but also review the amount and purposes of PII they collect. The impact of GDPR on businesses will be far bigger than most currently expect. [...]

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