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Open Consent: Scalable and Balanced Governance-Globalised Co-Regulation for balancing Market Self-Regulation

Mark Lizar (Open Consent CIC & Kantara Initiative: Co-Chair of Consent & Information Sharing WG), Antti Poikola and Harri Honko (My Data Finland), Katryna Dow and Nathan Kinch (Meeco), Joss Langford (Coelition), and Michele Nati (Digital Catapult: Personal Data & Trust Network),

October 2016

Note: This submission was contributed by the author to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Consultation on Consent under PIPEDA.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.


The Consent and privacy discussion paper the Officer of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) presented, is intended to explore enhancements to PIPEDA and summarises ‘Human Behaviour’ as a challenge to meaningful consent. As, “paradoxes of human behaviour and the practical realities of having limited time and energy to fully engage with privacy policies.“Footnote 1

For example, parents concerned about their children's privacy, do not have the time to read privacy policies and appropriately protect the autonomy of their children.

To address these concerns, the Open Consent Framework, which is presented in this response, is being designed to empower people to make consent choices independently, beyond the initial point of consent. And by using open standards, make interoperable these independent choices enabling meaningful consent with powerful tools of consent management which can aggregate consent to manage multiple consents at once.

The current model of consent does not provide a meaningful model for consent management out of the initial consent context and therefore limits what can be construed as informed and “usable consent.”Footnote 2

In this submission we refer to some outstanding projects developing in the global personal data ecosystem which illustrate the value of interoperability through the use of a common standard for consent.

We understand that enabling people with usable and meaningful consent is empowering and has an immediate impact on trust, individual autonomy and in effect digital society. While we also understand that consent is not a panacea for all issues presented in the discussion paper provided by Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC).Footnote 3 First and foremost, we are advocating “[a]n approach to privacy laws that does not reject notice and choice, but does not seek to rely on it for all purposes.”Footnote 4 There is a strong role for ethics, enhanced accountability and clear boundaries in the use of data. Ethics need to be clear, enforced, transparent and provided in a way so that people have easy and even automatic access to consent withdrawal and redress when needed.

The Open Consent Framework (OCF), that we advocate, is designed with the premise of making consent transparent on scale, across jurisdictions, domains and the Internet. The consent framework utilises an open standard candidate called a consent receipt,Footnote 5 which can be aggregated to show an overall picture of personal consents and information sharing.

Once transparency over data control is achieved and people are able to manage consent holistically, there will be more control and trust in the way people share information and trust, enabling people to explicitly assert preferences, attributes, and manage pseudonymity from a trusted notice, consent and privacy framework.

In response to the call to explore the potential enhancements to consent under PIPEDA, we aim to provide an overview of the emerging effort to develop Open Consent. Not only as an enabler for a global baseline for personal data & trust policy, across domains, or as a framework to provide systemic transparency over consent, but, as an opportunity for Canada to leverage its world class PIPEDA privacy legal framework. Taking the lead to enable Canadians with next generation consent based innovation.

The full submission is available in the following language(s):

English (PDF document)

Note: As this submission was provided by an entity not subject to the Official Languages Act, the full document is only available in the language provided.
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