A Human-centric Perspective on Digital Consenting: The Case of GAFAM

Soheil Human, Florian Cech

    Publication: Contribution to conferenceConference paper

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    Abstract

    According to different legal frameworks such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), an end-user's consent constitutes one of the well-known legal bases for personal data processing. However, research has indicated that the majority of end-users have difficulty in understanding what they are consenting to in the digital world. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that marginalized people are confronted with even more difficulties when dealing with their own digital privacy. In this research, we use an enactivist perspective from cognitive science to develop a basic human-centric framework for digital consenting. We argue that the action of consenting is a sociocognitive action and includes cognitive, collective, and contextual aspects. Based on the developed theoretical framework, we present our qualitative evaluation of the consent-obtaining mechanisms implemented and used by the five big tech companies, i.e. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft (GAFAM). The evaluation shows that these companies have failed in their efforts to empower end-users by considering the human-centric aspects of the action of consenting. We use this approach to argue that their consent-obtaining mechanisms violate principles of fairness, accountability and transparency. We then suggest that our approach may raise doubts about the lawfulness of the obtained consent—particularly considering the basic requirements of lawful consent within the legal framework of the GDPR.
    Original languageEnglish
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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