Poorly Designed Data Consent Management is Letting Us All Down.

By Chris Godsall

August 12, 2022


“Accept Cookies”

If you click “Yes”, are you agreeing to have your private life tracked and your data sold?

Common sense says: No. But the internet wasn’t designed for thoughtful and informed consent. Consent management software is supposed to help websites and people agree on terms for privacy.

Unfortunately, poorly designed consent management systems are letting us down, making the internet less trustworthy for people and less useful for brands.

3 Reasons Why Online Consent Management is Broken.

Here are three reasons why online consent management is broken, and a solution to fix the problem:

First: Google recently confirmed that companies and organizations have the ability to use online data to determine if a woman has had an abortion. How many women granted meaningful consent to have their abortion data tracked by Google or anyone else?

Most people would never willingly consent to their private lives being tracked and their personal data sold. And yet we know that our online data can be used to conclude if a person is: seeking addiction treatment; depressed; in a workplace conflict; experiencing a financial crisis. The list of personal matters that are being tracked by our online footprint is endless. And the list is – well – personal, isn’t it?

Did you ever consent to have your personal life tracked and shared? Apparently, the internet thinks we did.

Consent management systems are failing to broker real consent. It’s time to change that.

Second: Google is now deleting data that it didn’t have permission to use in the first place. Here’s what that says about the consent software that controls the flow of your personal data online:

At some point in the past 30 years, websites decided they could collect and use deeply personal data with few constraints. Today there is a shift in the way governments view privacy rights and a major change happening with the legal interpretation of meaningful consent to use personal data.

People click “accept cookies” for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with informed consent. What regulators have decided is that websites do not have their visitors’ consent if people are forced to make poorly informed decisions about their privacy.

I was at a meeting recently with investment professionals where 10 of 12 people in the room told me they thought websites won’t work if they reject cookies. That’s a misconception, designed on purpose to make people consent to cookies without actually understanding the consequences of installing tracking devices on their computers, tablets and phones.

Consent management systems were not designed to give people the chance to understand what they are signing away when we click “Accept Cookies”. Nor were they designed to represent people and their best interests. It’s time to change that, too.

Nor were they designed to represent people and their best interests. It’s time to change that, too.

Third: Without meaningful consent, website owners will continue to lose legal challenges to collect personal data and they will continue to be viewed as untrustworthy, or worse. In law, ethics and common sense there is only one kind of consent that really matters: meaningful consent.

Meaningful consent is now the standard in Europe, but it’s ugly, slow and frustrating. Traditional consent tools were never designed to deliver meaningful consent. As a result, visiting a website has become a frustrating and confusing user experience dominated by huge legal agreements that are plastered on the splash page.

Meanwhile, over 150 jurisdictions around the world are updating privacy rights. In those locations, websites claiming the right to collect your private information without meaningful consent are building their digital strategies on a house of cards.

To drive this point home, here is a message for consent managers that ignore the principal of meaningful consent:

Please stop asking my teenage daughter for her legal consent to be tracked using cookies. It makes you look like a creep. You don’t really think she read or understood your legal agreements, do you?

Failing to meet the standard of meaningful consent exposes brands to legal and reputational risks and causes real harm to the people who use digital technologies.

Now The Good News.

There’s a simple solution called user-generated terms and conditions that fixes these problems and can make the internet safer, faster and smarter.

Terms and conditions instantly and easily created by YOU, that reflect your interests and your true desire for privacy and trust.

Wouldn’t that fix the problem of ugly cookie banners that no one reads?

We think so. And so do a growing number of websites around the world who use our content software to create meaningful consent with their customers, eliminating legal and brand reputation risks while fostering the trust the internet needs to reach its full potential.

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