The dos and don’ts of data consent and processing

Alistair Sergeant
Alistair Sergeant

In 2023, there’s no doubt that data is a powerful currency – driving decisions and shaping strategies for organisations around the world. Nevertheless, as organisations become richer as a result of the data available to them, they are also tasked with a crucial responsibility: safeguarding the personal information they handle whilst adhering to a maze of data protection regulations that must be complied with by law.

In the UK, for example, laws like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA) dictate  data consent rules and processing. Failure to comply with these laws can lead to hefty fines, reputational damage and an erosion of customer trust, which is why breaches must be avoided at all costs.

Ultimately, these regulations are designed to safeguard individual privacy, ensuring that data is not just used as a tool but also regarded as a privilege shared by customers and users who have decided to give organisations their trust – which forms the foundation of every successful organisation. Without it, you won’t receive continued stakeholder engagement while lacking the information required to drive growth and development.

But how exactly do you ensure stakeholders remain happy and your organisation remains compliant – all while fulfilling your data potential?

As organisations set out to gather and analyse data to garner insight and improve their practices, they tread a fine line between ensuring compliance and maximising the information available to them. How can they harness the power of data – ensuring it informs their strategies and drives innovation – without falling foul of data laws or inadvertently divulging sensitive information? It’s a tightrope to walk where one misstep can lead to severe legal repercussions, regardless of the laws and systems you’re following.

Those new to the balancing act may find it all a bit overwhelming, which is why Equantiis data management specialists have set out the dos and don’ts of data consent and data processing below to make things simple:

Mastering data consent and data processing

Do: Communicate transparently. When collecting data, communicate the purpose – i.e., what it will be used for – clearly. Tell users why their information is needed, how it will be used, who will have access to it and how long it will be stored. It’s also important to inform them of their rights when it comes to requesting the modification or removal of their data from your systems.

Don’t: Use ambiguous language. Avoid vague or convoluted terms on your consent forms. Ambiguity can confuse users, and informed consent requires clarity.

Do: Provide granular consent options. Offer users different options for data users, letting them choose which aspects of their data they are comfortable sharing.

Don’t: Use pre-ticked boxes. Pre-selected consent options undermine choice. Users should actively opt into data sharing rather than having to opt-out.

Do: Provide user control. Empower your users to manage their data by providing easy methods for them to access, correct and even delete their information.

Don’t: Engage in data hoarding. Collect only what’s necessary. Gathering excessive data won’t do you any good and only increases your risk, adding to existing compliance burdens.

Do: A regular review. Continuously assess your data processing practices, making sure they are up to date. Regular reviews ensure that you process data in a way that aligns with ever-evolving guidelines and regulations.

Don’t: Allow data to stagnate. Avoid holding on to data indefinitely. Set reasonable – and lawful – data retention periods and delete data once its purpose has been fulfilled.

Partnering for data excellence: building solid data governance

Navigating the intricate web of data consent and data processing laws requires expertise. In addition to following the above tips, we therefore recommend partnering with data experts, like Equantiis, to craft the most robust data governance policies possible.

Not only do the experts understand the legal landscape in all its complexities, they also show organisations how to embrace automatable data management practices to streamline their processes – ensuring efficiency whilst simultaneously reducing the risk of human error.

Charting the data course

Organisations must learn to steer the ship in the vast sea of data they are sailing in. The dos and don’ts of data consent and data processing are like a compass that will help to guide towards compliance, innovation, and ethical data use. These core principles can all be enhanced further by regular data expertise, bolstering data governance and allowing organisations to confidently steer their course.

Interested in finding out more about Data Consent and Processing?

Equantiis is committed to helping our clients achieve their maximum potential by optimising their processes and technology. Contact a member of our team today to book an initial consultation.


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More about the author

Alistair Sergeant
Alistair Sergeant CEO

As CEO of Equantiis, his main focus is on strategic leadership and growth within the business whilst working through new opportunities that support this. Alistair manages client relationships so that they can benefit from his experience and knowledge. He thrives on leading a disruptive business that works with business leaders to identify and overcome complex business challenges, with cost certainty and transformative outcomes. Alistair is passionate about anything outdoors. Including running, camping and travelling with the family.