Consent Proxies?

by | Jan 21, 2020 | ICT4D |

Can we template consent? Or create consent proxies? Would it work to work with community members to pre-agree on using their or our data for certain things, but anything outside that we’d ask again? Or to have the community members nominate certain members to be able to ‘consent’ on behalf of others?

It certainly won’t work in all situations and likely should be time bound in all circumstances, but would it help in some situations? I wonder if it would help with cascading messages and understanding of what is being done with data. By reducing the ‘masses’ to a selection of folk, would our ability of creating awareness feel more achievable?

And yes, this moves away from the individual being the centre of all things (individualism) but is that a bad thing?

And to my own question of what problem it solves. Well, I wonder if it helps with the problem of overwhelm. Especially the problem of overwhelm in communities where all forms of literacy are low to be begin with. And perhaps too in certain type of emergency settings.

Photo by Freshh Connection


  1. Gracious

    I think this is worth exploring. Having worked in remote areas where literacy levels are pretty low, it is quite difficult to get beneficiaries to understand about data usage and protection. Mostly am sure they agree just for the sake of getting on the project list. If we are to go back later on and ask whether consent was sought for their data, they are very unlikely to remember. Which exposes data collectors to instigation, “violation of data policies”, no real evidence that they got the consent. If we could have a proxy consent on behalf of a community for example, we could have a written doc that’s signed at community level. Now, that would be evidence enough

    • AmosD

      Thanks for sharing this example Gracious, it is very helpful context as it raises the issue about ‘understanding’ and literacy. Much appreciated!


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