How To Consent In The Digital Age

How To Consent In The Digital Age

As data ownership lines blur in the world of big data, sit up and think about the ongoing collection of your personal information and the endless appetite a voracious breed of algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics that are geared to access it. Begging the question, are all uses of personal data consented or legitimate?

Yes, big data is the future and we surely will experience a time soon where your choice of biometrics will confirm, verify, and authenticate your identity, swinging open the door for consent to rightfully action an orchestrated array of “Internet of Things” with devices thirsty to interact or transact.

Today, the connected society has arrived and your identity footprints are somewhat declared. Coupled with consent, countless decisions are gathered and stored, and will play an increasingly important role in the digital economy.  Small tasks that once upon a time we “just did” may now be recorded, measured, and compiled in the vastness of data lakes.

So, what price or benefit will all these countless flows of personal data really pose?

Who decides what is recorded and what isn’t, and has the price of convenience entrapped us to be forever bombarded with services?  When consent is compulsory for services, will we be provided with clear and transparent Opt Out options or are we to feel hard lined into policy or terms acceptance.

When will our digital identity as a commodity come into effect and how much is it worth per transaction? As in an “always connected” future delivering faster transactions, robotics and the dawn of Blockchain permissioned or decentralised immutable records, we must realise that we do has a say about controls and in many cases, it comes down to the way we consent.

Remember, you’re the last mile and as a consumer, you retain permission to hold the power to cease or select a trading partner or choice when casting a vote. Perhaps, it’s why in this time we are seeing citizen-based movements forming to encapsulate the collective views of the everyday grassroots individual to cause paradigm shifts where policy or process is not serving us via amassing undeniable, society-led consensus.

With your individual consent directly collating to digital identity and privacy aspects, we are witnessing concerns amplifying across the globe on how personal data is handled or shared. It’s not surprising considering the upward trend in significant global data breaches or hacks on entities we would like to trust.

Recently, as part of Australian Privacy Week, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner released the Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2017. The report states that eight in ten (79%)  Australians are uncomfortable with businesses sharing their personal information with other businesses, with women and older Australians showing greater concern with this practice.

Legislation like the European Union General Data Protections Rights (GDPR) are setting the pace for consumers “right to know” and “right to be forgotten” data governance frameworks around personal data, which I believe will – within Data Sharing legislation – protect citizens.

In a digital world, we also need to think about how our current or paternal data history, one’s internet DNA footprints might be linked. The combination of inherited genomics, political, religious, and cultural statistics can form profiling markers that if misused can impact the fate of just not ourselves but others.

It’s easy to be dismissive because it’s hard to get our head around it, but it’s time to get hold of digital consent. Personally, I do not discount all the wonderful advantages that our digital “internet of me” lifestyle will bring, particularly in the areas of eHealth.

It also strengthens a call for self-sovereign consumer-centric identity platforms so that we each can control our holistic digital footprint and auditable unified consent.

Right now, consumers can step up to a base level of self-accountability by taking greater stock of terms and conditions, service level agreements, security and the value of trust seals displayed by businesses collecting and using big data, as apathy may come at a high price until we see behaviours forcing a paradigm shift where the consumer ultimately controls the pathways of data interactions.

If you’re a parent, hold regular conversations about offline and online cyber risks and consent with your children. Learn what apps they use and who they share information, talk about how they identify people at the other end of the Net. Check out sites like and for useful resources and decide what is acceptable in your online world.

Reinforce data respect on how we each present ourselves in words and images, so in turn, you can enjoy a safe and enriched digital life.


by Joanne Cooper
Technologist, Co-founder & Managing Director
Cloud Insurance


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