How can we evaluate the success and failures of informed consent?

by | Nov 3, 2020 | ICT4D |


The answers were wide ranging and insightful. From ‘checking for understanding or regret of the people who consented’ to ‘are people saying no’ to ‘are we following the spirit of consent’. But also more challenging responses including are we able to handle a collectivist response to an individualistic question?

I learnt a lot through the discussion, but had a niggle. For all the talk about informed consent. For all the laws about it. Isn’t and wasn’t the point of informed consent to improve our practices and behaviours? Have our organisational practices or behaviours changed beyond just adding a step to our business process?

I don’t know. I hope so. But I often feel like it hasn’t. Most of the conversations about informed consent tend to be about its legal basis, legal alternatives to it, whether it is possible, when it is required, how to collect it, and so on. I don’t hear much discussion about the benefits of it and how it changes our approach to those we work with and the information we manage.

Do you?

If you do, please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to learn about this.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge

1 Comment

  1. Fred

    Indeed this is often overlooked aspect. I personally advocate for a renewed emphasis on informed consent collection for the benefits it brings:
    – higher standards of compliance to data protection laws spirit compared to mere “legitimate interest” that has a too broad range of interpretations;
    – raising and keeping a sharp awareness of the risks and accountability among the implementing staff; and not the least,
    – making people affected by crisis feel respected and consulted.
    That said, I also advocate for having a most stringent, realistic threat-based data protection and data management ethics, and not to merely do everything to which consent was given or that is allowed by law. Humanitarian action should go beyond and protect more than what is required by law or consent.


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