Compliance Data & Privacy Data

What Real Consent Should Look Like in Consumer Data Practices

By Allie DeBruyn on June 5, 2024

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Allie DeBruyn

Legal and Compliance Manager

In the nuanced and complex realm of consumer data collection, the concept of consent has become a major point of discussion. As marketers navigate the early days of increasingly stringent privacy laws and soon-to-be-cookieless environments, the importance of understanding what constitutes real consent cannot be overstated.   


It's no longer acceptable to view data privacy solely through the lens of legality; consumer privacy is a responsibility shared by all and should be deeply woven into the fabric of business processes. Here’s how modern marketers should be thinking about consent—real consent—in a privacy-first world.  

Going Beyond Legal Compliance  

One of the most important considerations when evaluating consent practices lies in discerning between what is legally permissible and what is ethically sound. Beyond trying to adapt for cookieless environments and new privacy laws, our industry has a moral duty to ensure that data collection practices adhere to the highest ethical standards. For many, this requires a shift in perspective, recognizing that even data legally obtained with consent might not always align with ethical best practices. 


In the quest for real consent, there's no room for assumptions. Consent should be: 

  • Deliberate 
  • Informed 
  • Confirmed 


Too often, individuals unknowingly give consent or don’t understand the full implications of the approvals they grant. It's imperative to distinguish between indirect consent and deliberate consent, ensuring that individuals fully understand the consequences of their actions. 


So, what does real consent entail? It goes beyond compliance with regulations to require consistent investment in privacy over time. As privacy laws continue to evolve, staying abreast of changes and updating privacy policies accordingly becomes fundamental. But at the same time, marketers must ensure that they’re being transparent and ethical when it comes to how they obtain consent from consumers to use their data.  


Marketers should also apply this lens to their data partners. Do the companies your brand works with prioritize both legal compliance and ethical practices in how they gather consumer data? Those that do represent not only valuable data providers but also partners in navigating an ever-changing data and consent landscape.


Identifying Data Partners That Prioritize Real Consent 

Part of the vetting process when considering new data partners involves scrutinizing their consent policies and privacy compliance practices. Trust is essential, but it must be accompanied by verification. Transparency should be non-negotiable from the outset, with clear communication regarding data usage and privacy measures.  


When vetting data partners for compliance and data privacy, marketers should consider several key factors: 


  • Privacy compliance: Ensure that the data partner adheres to relevant privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and other regional laws. 
  • Data collection practices: Investigate how the data partner collects data. Are they transparent about their methods? Do their consent practices go beyond mere compliance to ensure consumers understand what happens to their data? 
  • Data usage policies: Are they clear about the purposes for which the data will be used? Do the company’s practices align with your company's values and ethical standards? 
  • Data retention policies: Inquire about the data partner's policies regarding data retention and deletion. Do they have procedures in place to delete outdated or unnecessary data in compliance with regulations? 
  • Third-party audits and certifications: Check to see if the data partner undergoes regular audits or holds certifications related to data privacy and security, such as SOC 2 compliance. 
  • Legal expertise: Evaluate the data partner's legal and compliance teams. Do they have the knowledge and experience to navigate complex privacy laws and regulations effectively?  


Real consent in consumer data collection requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond compliance. It demands a shift toward ethical data practices, ongoing investment in privacy measures, and transparent communication and value exchange with consumers. By prioritizing these principles, and having trusted data partners to lean on, marketers can demonstrate their commitment to respecting consumer privacy. This commitment to ethical data practices fosters trust and accountability among consumers. 


The results of all this diligence goes well beyond mitigating legal risk and can actually strengthen a brand. Consent is the starting point for quality data, which in turn powers higher quality business and marketing outcomes. Establishing proper content also builds trust, loyalty, and elevates a brand in the eyes of its customers.  


Alliant is your resource to stay ahead of regulatory changes and meet consumer privacy expectations. Visit Alliant’s data governance page for more information about our commitment to data security, compliance, and transparency, or contact Alliant directly to discuss. 

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