When It Comes to Cookies: What is Meaningful Consent?

By Chris Godsall

July 25, 2022


Google has announced they’ll delete personal information used to determine if a woman has had an abortion. That seems like good news, except most people would say they should never have collected that information in the first place.

IT department’s may argue that they have your consent to track website visitors when you accept those website cookies. Remember? No, most people do not remember giving anyone the right to track and sell data about their deeply personal life.

The good news is that the law agrees with you.

In North America, Europe and a rapidly growing list of global jurisdictions, website owners need to secure meaningful consent from their website visitors to collect and store personal data.

6 Principles For Creating Meaningful Consent

Here are some of the basics that inform most laws and modern IT practices:

  1. People visiting a website must have the  information they need to decide if they want to share their personal information with the website or with third parties – like marketing agencies that buy data from the internet.  
  2. The request for personal data must be easy for website visitors to understand and the information describing consent must be easy to access.
  3. The process of giving consent must be something that everyone can do, especially younger and older people who may have difficulty understanding what they are agreeing to.
  4. Giving up personal information can not be a condition for the basic functionality of the website or app.  
  5. People should be able to change their minds easily and quickly.  
  6. There is no such thing as implied consent when it comes to personal information that any reasonable person would think is sensitive.  You always need explicit meaningful consent for sensitive information. 
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