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Custers, B. (2016). Click here to consent forever: Expiry dates for informed consent. Big Data & Society, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2053951715624935


The legal basis for processing personal data and some other types of Big Data is often the informed consent of the data subject involved. Many data controllers, such as social network sites, offer terms and conditions, privacy policies or similar documents to which a user can consent when registering as a user. There are many issues with such informed consent: people get too many consent requests to read everything, policy documents are often very long and difficult to understand and users feel they do not have a real choice anyway. Furthermore, in the context of Big Data refusing consent may not prevent predicting missing data. Finally, consent is usually asked for when registering, but rarely is consent renewed. As a result, consenting once often implies consent forever. At the same time, given the rapid changes in Big Data and data analysis, consent may easily get outdated (when earlier consent no longer reflects a user’s preferences). This paper suggests expiry dates for consent, not to settle questions, but to put them on the table as a start for further discussion on this topic.