One of the key changes in societal trends and lifestyles witnessed over the past few years has been the move on-line of many consumers and the way they have become increasingly sophisticated in their media consumption habits. Have these recent changes to consumer and commercial practices developed in such a way that consumers are (in)voluntarily signing away their fundamental right to privacy?
This CONSENT project seeks to examine how consumer behaviour, and commercial practices are changing the role of consent in the processing of personal data. While consumer consent is a fundamental value on which the European market economy is based, the way consumer consent is obtained is questionable in popular user-generative/user-generated (UGC) online services (including sites like MySpace, YouTube and Facebook), whose commercial success depends to a large extent on the disclosure by their users of substantial amounts of personal data.
There is an urgent need to study and analyse the changes in consumption behaviour and consumer culture arising from the emergence of UGC online services and how contractual, commercial and technical practices and other factors affect consumer choice and attitudes toward personal privacy in the digital economy.
CONSENT's multidisciplinary team is carrying out a status quo analysis of commercial practices, legal position and consumer attitudes, identifying criteria for fairness and best practices, and then create a toolkit for policy makers and corporate counsel which will enable them to address problem identified in the analysis.
CONSENT will advance the knowledge base that underpins the formulation and implementation of policies and corporate procedures in the area of privacy and consumer protection with a view to informing policy-making in the European Union and to contribute to the development of European research communities in these areas.