Consent, Coercion and Change

by | Apr 18, 2021 | ICT4D |

consent, coercion, choice

We tend to focus on data collection from the perspective the organisation rather than the perspective of those we seek to serve. This results in us focusing on consent rather than how do we help those we seek to serve live wisely in a digital world. And yet, changing the mindset of organisations to focus on the perspective of those we seek to serve is tough. So what can we do to use the compliance mindset to help those we seek to serve?

Consent and legitimate interest are two legal bases for collecting data. However, consent comes with a few expectations:

  • Freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of wishes, either by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifying agreement (e.g. for data collection)
  • Information about consent and privacy must be given in plain and simple language.
  • Consent cannot be bundled up with other types of information.
  • Consent assumes there is choice, even if the only alternative choice is no.

From the above expectations we can conclude consent requires the ‘subject’ being aware of what they are consenting to. And it is not “consent” if it’s a requirement for accessing or receiving benefits. That tends to be called coercion.

Unfortunately, we tend to require the data in exchange for receiving benefits/aid. In addition to creating awareness as mentioned in yesterday’s post, we can create alternative options for those we seek to serve. Alternatives should always include the option to say no and still receive benefits. There are of course lots of other possibilities in between.

Before alternatives can have relevance, we need to focus on the first three bullets which are all about awareness. And in one sense, awareness is about digital literacy which can be incorporated into most projects.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu


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