What is a consent management platform?

  • by Osano Staff
  • · posted on September 29, 2022
  • · 5 min read
What is a consent management platform?

Consent management is not a new concept. But it has seen an incredible rise in the past few years. It began gaining popularity with the EU ePrivacy Directive and when the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2016. Soon after that, privacy laws began to pass in countries all over the world from China to Brazil with new laws coming into effect at a quickening pace. The need for a consent management platform soon became clear.

In short, no matter which regulation you need to comply with, you have to know which users consented to which type of data processing. And you need to have good evidence of it. You also need an easy way to process all this, not just for you, but for your users as well.

So what is a consent management platform? Why should you use one? This article will tell you all this and more.

What is a consent management platform?

A consent management platform (CMP) is a tool that helps companies legally document and manage the user’s consent choices regarding personal data processing.

Have you ever entered a site and gotten a pop-up telling you it needs your permission to use cookies and maybe process some of your data? That pop-up is part of a consent management platform.

CMPs provide users with a clear explanation of how their data will be used and why. And they give them the option to revoke consent when they want to.

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Why do businesses need one?

Avoiding fines

ePrivacy and the GDPR were the first regulations to emphasize the importance of consent. Failure to comply can result in huge fines. That’s a situation no business wants to find itself in.

For instance, the GPDR fines can go up to $20 million or 4% of the annual turnover, whichever one is higher.

A consent management platform doesn’t mean you’ll be compliant with all the provisions in a data protection regulation. But it will bring you one step closer.

Ensuring transparency

Avoiding fines isn’t the only reason a business needs a CMP. Nowadays, consumers want transparency.

Most people understand some of their personal data will be processed as they browse the internet. But they want to know which one and why. And the best way to offer them that information is through a CMP.

Plus, transparency is a requirement of some privacy laws, like the GDPR, so you’ll be one step closer to compliance.

Associating a user’s identity with their consent

New privacy laws don’t just require asking for consent. You must also give them the option to withdraw their consent when they want. Certain exceptions exist, depending on the business, but we’ll look at a general case for now.

Unless you can associate the user’s identity with their options for consent, allowing them to change their decision becomes impossible. You’ll end up with consent from the same user scattered around different systems and silos.

A good CMP allows knowing exactly what each user chose. And it will allow them to change their choice.

 

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What makes up a consent management platform?

Choosing a consent management platform may seem like a daunting task. What should a business look at? There are a few key features you want to look for in any CMP.

1. Help with law interpretation

Laws can change very quickly. And they can be interpreted differently in different countries.

Let’s look at a simple example. The GDPR has a broad definition of personal data. So broad, in fact, that different countries have had different interpretations. Since the GDPR was enforced, there have also been different interpretations of what opt-in consent looks like. For example, in France, at first, scrolling through a page was interpreted as consent. But that has changed now.

Unless you have a large, global team of privacy professionals, keeping up with all these changes is nearly impossible. Let’s face it, very few companies can afford that. But there’s an alternative: letting your CMP do all the work for you.

Not all consent management platforms can do this. A good CMP will be continually updated to match all the new provisions, laws, changes, and interpretations worldwide.

2. Capturing and archiving consent

Privacy regulations like the GDPR require companies to gather consent in an honest manner. This can be done through banners or pop-ups. The means aren’t as important as the result. Users need to give their specific and informed consent.

In many jurisdictions, you also need to have proof of consent.

That’s why you need a CMP that correctly archives consent. The possibility to connect a user to their option will also allow them to retract their consent, a requirement in several laws, including the GDPR.

3. Disabling unauthorized tags and cookies

In some instances, tags and/or cookies are loaded regardless of whether a user has given their consent. This can be considered a violation of some privacy laws.

The correct way would be to disable tags and unnecessary cookies until a user gives their consent. No consent? No tags and no unnecessary cookies.

When choosing your consent management platform, look out for this aspect. Unfortunately, not all CMPs take this into consideration.

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4. Inventory and categorization of web tags

Speaking of web tags, many CMPs will require you to manually catalog them. You either add each new tag to your inventory immediately, or you conduct regular website audits.

But there are easier ways to do this and a good CMP can help by automatically scanning your website and telling you which tags you have on your site. It can also auto-categorize them based on the user’s input.

5. Covering more than just websites

Because most consent management pop-ups you see are on websites and refer to cookies, you may be inclined to think that’s where it all stops. You’d be wrong. Consent management extends across different platforms, including mobile apps.

If you process data through various mediums, make sure your CMP works on all of them.

Conclusion

Consent management is crucial for regulatory compliance. You need to make it easy for your users to opt-in, opt-out, or retract consent. And you need to keep logs of their decisions. A consent management platform solves many of these problems.

It can offer a quick and customizable way of asking and archiving consent. It will help you avoid risks and fines. In short, a good consent management platform will give you and your customers peace of mind.

Osano’s CMP will do all that and more. Supported in 40+ languages, Osano’s CMP will help you get one step closer to regulatory compliance, without wasting time and valuable resources.

 

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About The Author · Osano Staff

The Osano staff is a diverse team of free thinkers who enjoy working as part of a distributed team with the common goal of working to make a more transparent internet. Occasionally, the team writes under the pen name of our mascot, “Penny, the Privacy Pro.”