Informed Consent and Translations

  • by Arlo Gilbert
  • · posted on November 21, 2019
  • · 2 min read
Informed Consent and Translations

Why you need to provide cookie consent in the preferred language of your website visitor for it to be considered "informed".

The internet makes it easy for visitors from all over the world to visit your website. Even though English is widely spoken, that doesn’t mean it is the preferred language of your website’s visitors or that they all understand it. If your website uses cookies, it is best practice to provide cookie consent dialog to visitors in their preferred language. Valid consent needs to be informed, and it cannot be informed if it is not understood.

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The EU’s ePrivacy Directive, also known as the Cookie Law, requires informed consent before storing most cookies on a user’s device and/or tracking them. Under Article 5, that consent requires that the user has been “provided with clear and comprehensive information” about the purposes of the cookie. The first step in communicating clear information is to make sure that the recipient of that information-- your website’s visitor-- can understand it.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also requires that a request for consent be given in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. According to Recital 42, for consent to be informed, the data subject should be aware of the purposes of the processing.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office’s Guide to Data Protection explains: “You must clearly explain to people what they are consenting to in a way they can easily understand...If the request for consent is vague, sweeping or difficult to understand, then it will be invalid.” The clearest way to explain what website visitors are consenting to is to use their preferred language. Anyone who visits your website should be able to understand what you are asking them to agree to. If it is difficult to understand, then it will not be valid consent.

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Providing dialog in languages other than just English, and in the visitor’s preferred language, is consistent with the GDPR Principle of Transparency, which “requires that any information addressed to the public or to the data subject be concise, easily accessible and easy to understand, and that clear and plain language.”

An easy way to make sure that visitors to your website are informed and understand what they are agreeing to when they consent to cookies is to make sure it is in a language they understand. It is easy to obtain valid consent with consent management platforms-- like Osano’s-- that automatically display consents in a website visitor’s preferred language.

About The Author · Arlo Gilbert

Arlo Gilbert is the CEO & co-founder of Osano. An Austin, Texas native, he has been building software companies for more than 20 years in categories including telecom, payments, procurement, and compliance. In 2005 Arlo invented voice commerce, he has testified before congress on technology issues, and is a frequent speaker on data privacy rights.