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Consent Management 

What Is Consent Management?

Consent management is a process used primarily in data privacy and online environments to ensure that individuals can control what personal information is collected about them and how it is used. 

It is especially relevant in the context of websites and applications, where personal data is often collected for various purposes. 

Effective consent management protects individual privacy rights and builds trust between users and organizations. It also helps organizations avoid legal penalties and reputational damage from non-compliance with data protection regulations.

Third-party definition 

Consent management is the set of practices associated with informing users how your business collects and uses data, providing them with the opportunity to consent to or refuse such use, acting upon their consent or refusal, and storing a record of their consent or refusal. Businesses use consent management platforms (CMPs) like Osano to carry out these tasks. – Osano

Consent Management: Europe vs. the US

Consent management differs significantly between Europe and the United States, mainly due to differences in their respective legal frameworks.

In Europe, the ePrivacy Directive, often coupled with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), mandates explicit consent for cookies and similar tracking technologies. 

The GDPR generally follows an opt-in model, requiring explicit consent before any personal data collection or processing can occur. Under the GDPR, consent must be given freely. It must also be specific, informed, and unambiguous. This often requires a clear affirmative action (like checking a box).

The US has no federal data privacy law equivalent to the GDPR. Unlike Europe, the US also does not have a specific law requiring cookie consent, although some state laws and industry best practices encourage transparency about cookie usage.

Rather than requiring explicit consent, the US generally follows an opt-out model where data can be collected until the user explicitly requests it to stop.

Examples of Consent Management 

As a consumer, you likely encounter consent management every day—probably without even realizing it. Consent management can be found in various forms across different digital platforms and services. 

Some examples of consent management include:

  • Websites and cookie consent banners. When you visit a website, you often encounter a pop-up or banner informing you about the site’s use of cookies. This banner allows you to accept, decline, or customize your cookie preferences, which may include options for advertising, analytics, and functionality cookies. 
  • Online forms and newsletters. When signing up for a newsletter or filling out an online form, you might see a checkbox asking for your consent to receive marketing emails or other communications. This checkbox is typically unchecked by default, requiring users to actively opt-in. 
  • E-commerce checkouts. During an online purchase, e-commerce sites often ask for consent to save payment information, use shipping details for future convenience, or sign up for promotional emails.
  • Account registration processes. When creating a new account on a platform (for example, social media, forums, or other online services), users are usually asked to agree to the terms of service and privacy policy, which often includes consent for data processing activities.
  • Mobile app permissions. Mobile apps request consent through pop-up notifications asking permission to access certain features of your device, such as location services, camera, microphone, or contacts.
  • Subscription services. Video streaming, music streaming, and other subscription-based services often ask for consent to use viewing or listening history to personalize recommendations.
  • Customized advertising. Some websites and online platforms ask users to consent to personalized advertising based on browsing history and preferences.

Why Is Consent Management Important for Privacy?

Consent management is vital for privacy for several reasons.

Consent management empowers individuals by giving them control over their personal information and respecting their right to choose what information they share and how it’s used. 

By seeking consent, organizations are encouraged to collect only data necessary for the specified purpose, adhering to the principle of data minimization. This can also reduce the risk of privacy breaches, as organizations that collect a lot of personal information are often cybercriminals’ preferred targets. 

Although transparent consent management practices demonstrate to users that an organization values and respects their privacy, most organizations practice consent management for legal compliance. 

Privacy laws, such as the GDPR in the EU, require explicit consent for data collection and processing. Effective consent management helps organizations comply with these regulations and avoid potential legal penalties.