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User Consent Receipts: Transforming User Trust and Privacy One Checkbox At a Time

user consent receipt visual with a cookie and a receipt on top

Whether setting up an Instagram account or buying concert tickets online, users are almost always required to submit personal details to a private company. A business can then use this information for several purposes, including to deliver products, improve customer service, marketing, and much more.

On the users’ side, we're always online, clicking through websites, apps, and digital services. 

That's why it's crucial for both companies and users to really get what user consent means. 

User consent entails several factors that have to be discussed, such as cookie policy, consent receipts, data privacy regulations mandating user consents, cookie banners that help businesses manage user consents, and Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) that help with the various aspects of personal data protection and privacy. 

The GDPR and CCPA are big names in the Data Privacy Regulation world. They set the rules for how user consent needs to work and make sure businesses don't just do whatever they want with your information. They're all about protecting your privacy and making sure you're in the driver's seat when it comes to your data.

When you visit a website and see a Cookie Consent Banner pop up, that's all about user consent. This banner should give you the scoop on what cookies the site wants to use and why. With a cookie consent tool, you can say yes or no to different types of cookies, picking what you're comfortable with. It's all about giving you control over your online footprint. This is called granular consent.

Lastly, a Consent Management Tool, or a CMP, helps businesses keep track of all the user consents they've got. It's a way to organize and store those consents, making sure they're following the rules and respecting user choices.

So, user consent isn't just a one-time click or an annoying pop-up. It's a key part of keeping your data safe and making sure you're okay with how it's used in this digital age. Businesses need to take it seriously, and as users, we should too, staying informed and aware of our digital rights.


What is User Consent?

In short, user consent is like the user is saying "yes" in the digital world. When you visit a website and it asks if it can use your data, that's user consent. It's you giving the thumbs up for the website to collect, use, and/or share your personal information. However, for businesses, this isn't just a nice-to-have thing, but rather there are data privacy laws like the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA in California that make it clear that users have to give their okay before businesses can do anything with their personal data.

User consent is a crucial part of keeping user data safe and respecting their choices. It means that users agree to let websites or apps collect, use, or share their information. User consent is very important for websites to have because it makes sure users know what is happening with their data and agree to it. This is a big part of following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

User consent has to be informed which is usually achieved through the help of a Cookie Policy,  a set of rules that a website or app puts in place and follows to make sure they're playing fair with your data. It tells you what they'll collect, why they want it, and how they plan to use it. This policy should be easy to find and understand, so you know exactly what you're agreeing to.

When you visit a website and see a cookie banner, it's asking for your user consent to track some of your activities on the site using cookies. By clicking "accept" on a cookie consent tool, you're giving your user consent. For businesses, having a clear user consent policy is key. This policy helps them follow data privacy regulations and respect users' choices. 

So, user consent is all about asking users transparently if they are okay with their data being used and making sure they have the power to say yes or no. It's a vital step in respecting privacy and following important laws like GDPR and CCPA.


What is a Consent Receipt?

Think of a Consent Receipt like a receipt you get at a store, but for your data. When you say yes to a website, they should give you this receipt. It's a record that lists what you agreed to, like what information they can collect and what they're going to do with it. This receipt is a big win for transparency and lets you keep track of who you've given consent to.

A consent receipt is a clear proof given to users after they agree to let a website or app collect or use their data. 

By using a consent receipt, users can see and remember what they agreed to, which helps build trust. It also makes it easier for them to change their mind later if they want to. With rules like the GDPR and CCPA, having a good user consent policy and using tools like Cookie Banners and Consent Management Platforms are crucial for businesses. These receipts are key parts of respecting data privacy regulations and making sure users feel in control of their data.


Why is User Consent Important?

User consent is important because it's not just about following the law; it's key to earning trust and being transparent online. Nowadays, people worry more about how their data is used or shared, and user consent gives them power over their information. This sense of control is essential for their peace of mind. 

For businesses, sticking to user consent policies, or privacy policies as they are more commonly known, like those required by GDPR and CCPA, is vital. These data privacy regulations make sure companies respect user choices, especially about personal data. When businesses don't follow these rules, they can face big fines and lose their good reputation.

User consent also ties into everyday tools we encounter online, like cookie banners and consent management tools, such as CMPs. These elements help users make informed decisions about their data. By using a cookie consent tool, for instance, websites can make sure they comply with data privacy regulation while giving users a straightforward way to manage their preferences.

In short, user consent is a cornerstone of the digital world, essential for both individuals and businesses. It fosters trust, ensures security, and complies with important laws like GDPR and CCPA.


Why Would A Business Care About User Consent and User Consent Receipts? 

As data breaches became more common, concerns also grew over online privacy and data storage. Businesses needed to change the way they addressed personal data to respond to regulatory challenges, and consent receipts provide them with a means of proving their compliance to new rules for the collection and use of personal data.

In May 2018, the EU enforced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), introducing dramatic shifts in the way businesses collect, store and use customer data. When storing or using an individual’s personal data, implied consent was no longer sufficient. This was followed by other strict data privacy laws around the world such as the CCPA in California. 

With the enforcement of the GDPR companies had to be able to prove that they received explicit consent from users allowing them to use their personal data for a certain purpose, for example receiving marketing content from partner organizations or being signed up to mailing lists. 

Additionally, an individual must now have the right to withdraw their consent at any time. If someone objects to a particular use of their personal data, a business must also be able to prove when and how an individual consented to the use in question.

Failure to comply is costly. Under the GDPR, non-compliance can cost a company up to 4% of its annual global revenue, or €20 million, depending on which sum is greater.

The GDPR did wonders to empower the individual but left companies with more work to do to ensure the transparent collection and processing of customer data, which is where consent receipts can lend companies a helping hand. Companies need a way to generate these legally binding receipts and develop robust strategies for managing their personal data banks.


What Information Should a User Consent Receipt Include?

Creating a user-friendly consent receipt is essential for your business to show honesty and build trust with your website visitors, whose personal information you collect and process. 

As such, a user consent receipt should include the following details: 

  • Who You Are (Data Controller’s Identity): you should make sure that the receipt clearly shows your business name and your contact details. This helps users know who is collecting their data and where to go if they have any questions or issues.
  • What Users Have Agreed To (Specific Nature of the Consent): Be clear about what your users are allowing you to do with their data. Whether it's tracking their online behavior, saving their preferences, or using their email, your user consent receipt should list these details so users know exactly what they've agreed to.
  • Why You Need Their Data (Purpose of Data Collection): Explain to your users the reasons behind collecting their data. Whether you want to make your website better, to run personalized ads, or to improve your services, your users should understand why their information is necessary.
  • Keep It Simple and Accessible: Write the consent receipt in easy language without complicated terms, and make sure your users can find and read it whenever they want.

What Are the Different Types Of User Consent?

One of the most complex challenges in global data privacy is how companies obtain and handle the consent of individuals before gathering or utilizing their personal data. This can be complicated for many reasons, like figuring out the best way to ask for consent, making sure they can show proof of consent if asked, or just understanding what consent really means.

According to Article 4 of the GDPR consent is “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.” 

Similarly, under the CCPA consent is the consumer's clear indication of their wishes to have their personal information processed. In order to be considered valid, consent has to be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication of the consumer’s wishes, provided by the consumer, or the consumer’s legal guardian. 

The consumer must give a clear agreement for a specific purpose before a business can use their personal information, which means that an agreement to use general, broad terms of use, as well as hovering over, muting, pausing, or closing the message cannot be considered as a signification of a valid consent.  The same applies to consent obtained through the use of deceptive designs or dark patterns

Let’s now look at the different types of user consents:

  • Express or explicit consent is when someone clearly agrees to let a company use their personal data, after being fully informed about what that entails. Data privacy laws like the GDPR need this clear agreement, often seen when a person clicks an "Accept All" on a website's cookie banner. This action shows they understand and agree to the data collection, and the company can then keep a record of this consent as proof.
  • Implicit or deemed consent happens when a business assumes it has permission to go ahead with something because a person does something, or doesn't do anything, after being told about how their personal data will be used. For example, in healthcare, doctors might rely on this consent in emergencies. In data privacy, like when a website shows a cookie banner, if someone doesn't say no to cookies but doesn't actively say yes, their consent is assumed. However, this kind of consent doesn't provide clear proof, which can be risky for businesses. 
  • Opt-in consent means a person actively agrees to let a company use their personal information. This agreement could be for things like signing up for emails or allowing website cookies. When someone opts in, they're clearly saying yes to specific uses of their data, which the company has explained in advance, and can pick and choose what to allow and what not, which refers to the aspect of granular consent. This includes how long the data will be kept and who else might see it. Opt-in consent also means the person made this choice openly (like ticking a box or clicking a button) and understood what they were agreeing to, including having the power to decide exactly what they're okay with, such as getting emails but not sharing their info with others.
  • Opt-out consent means a person decides not to give or withdraws their already given consent for a company to use their personal details. This could be for things like refusing to let a website use non-essential cookies, which means some services or some tracking tools will not be able to work anymore, leaving only the cookies that are necessary for the website to function. People might opt out right when they first visit a website or change their mind later. For instance, under California's privacy law, the CCPA, websites have to allow users to easily say no to having their information sold and/or shared. So, if someone doesn't want a company to update them on products or use their data for marketing purposes, they can uncheck a pre-ticked box, which is opting out.

To help you better understand the different types of consent, we've created the following infographic: 

examples of different types of user consent


For a more in-depth discussion on the difference between opt-in and opt-out consent in data privacy check out our article on the topic. 

How Can My Business Collect and Store User Consent?

Making sure your business collects and stores user consent properly is important for your business because it helps you keep the trust of your customers and follow the many different Data Privacy Regulation laws around the world. 

Here are a few best practices for user consent management: 

  • Communicate clearly: Use easy-to-understand language to explain to your users what you're asking their consent for. This helps them know exactly what they're agreeing to, making your user consent practices more transparent.
  • Provide a user-friendly interface: Make it simple for your users to say yes or no to giving their consent. Using tools like a Cookie Consent Banner or a Consent Management Platform can make this process smoother. Tools such as these help your users to provide, change, or withdraw their consent without any hassle.
  • Keep records: make sure you have a user consent receipt for each user consent decision. This consent receipt should be stored safely. Also, perform regular checks to ensure that your records are complete and unaltered in order to comply with data privacy regulations such as the GDPR and the CCPA.
  • Use a Consent Management Platform (CMP). A good CMP can do all of the following: 
    • help you with the above practices;
    • make it easier for users to control their data;
    • make it easier for your business to keep track of users’ choices;
    • make it easier for you to keep a record of your consent;
    • work well with websites and apps to manage data sharing;
    • keep up with changes in privacy laws; 
    • make following data privacy rules easier; 
    • help you build trust with customers.


How Long Do I Have to Store User Consent? 

The duration for which you need to keep user consent records can vary based on several factors, such as the specific legal requirements of your jurisdiction and the purpose for which the consent was obtained. However, as a general rule, it's important to retain consent records for as long as the data obtained under that consent is being used and some data protection regulations might require your business to keep a record of consent for an additional period.

The GDPR, for example, has no specific time limit for keeping consent records. However, it is a good idea to retain them for as long as you are processing the individual's data under that consent so you can demonstrate compliance with the regulation. Once the individual’s data is no longer needed for the purposes for which it was collected, or if the individual withdraws consent, you should no longer retain the data unless there is another legal basis or requirement to keep it.

The CCPA, while more focused on providing consumers with rights regarding their personal information rather than on the specifics of consent retention, suggests that maintaining accurate consent records can prove crucial for your business to be able to demonstrate compliance with its requirements, whenever they are relevant.

In any case, as a best practice, you should:

  • Regularly review the personal data you hold and ensure that you still have a valid legal basis for keeping it.
  • Anonymize or securely delete any personal data (and associated consent records) when it is no longer necessary for the purposes for which you collected it
  • Follow any sector-specific regulations or guidelines that may apply to your data retention practices.
  • Regularly consult with legal counsel regarding your specific situation, in order to ensure that your data retention policies comply with all applicable laws and regulations.


User Consent Examples

Having discussed what user consent is, let’s look at an actual example:

When you navigate to our website, if you are located in the EU, for example, a cookie consent banner will display somewhere on the page, informing you of the cookies used on the website and asking for your granular consent: 




Here’s a close-up of the cookie banner: 



At this point, you get to choose which types of cookies you wish to consent to. If you allow cookies, a consent receipt will be generated, which you can find in the “Preferences” section of the consent banner, under “Cookie Consent Management” if you click on “View consent” all the way at the bottom:


The User Consent Receipt should look something like this:




In simple terms, when businesses ask for your permission clearly and give you a record of what you agreed to, called a user consent receipt, it's a big win for everyone. This process makes everything clearer and more honest between companies and you, the user. It's like being given the rulebook of a game before you decide to play, ensuring you know and agree to the rules.

User consent means that a business asks if it's okay to use your data before they actually do anything with it. And when they give you a receipt for your permission, it's like getting a proof of purchase, but for your data. This helps you remember what you said yes to and lets you keep track of your choices.

This is not just about following the rules; it's about building trust. When businesses are open about what they do with your information and let you control it, they show respect. This builds a good relationship between you and the company, making you more likely to trust and stick with them.

Getting clear consent and giving out consent receipts helps businesses stay on the right side of the law and keeps you, the user, in charge of your data. It's an important step toward making the digital world more transparent and user-friendly. So, it's good for both businesses and users to take user consent seriously and use it right.


How can Clym help Collect and Store User Consents?

Clym helps businesses manage user consents for cookies and data collection simply and effectively. It offers a compliance tool that gathers and organizes consents in one place, making it easier for businesses to follow privacy laws. Clym's system is user-friendly, works worldwide, and helps businesses keep records for audits, being designed to help businesses stay compliant with the law while also respecting user choices. 

Key Features include:

  • Cookie Consent Banner: Clym’s Cookie Consent Banner is user-friendly and engages your site visitors right from their first interaction. It informs users about the use of cookies and storage technologies on your website, facilitating informed consent in accordance with global data privacy laws.
  • Consent Management Platform: Our platform is designed to automatically identify and categorize your website’s cookies and storage uses based on the requirements of different data privacy regulations. This ensures that your visitors have the flexibility to adjust their preferences at any time, providing a clear and compliant way to manage consent.
  • Robust Data Governance: With Clym, data governance becomes less of a burden. Our platform facilitates your website’s compliance with the latest privacy regulations by continuously scanning and updating the categorization and classification of your scripts, cookies, and storage uses. This means any new additions or changes made by your team are automatically recognized and integrated into the privacy widget, eliminating manual efforts and reducing the risk of non-compliance.
  • Peace of Mind for You and Your Legal Team: Knowing that Clym is handling the complexities of compliance allows you and your legal team to focus on your core business activities without the constant worry of privacy regulation breaches. Clym’s comprehensive approach ensures that your website’s use of cookies adheres to legal standards, keeping you ahead of compliance issues.

You can convince yourself and see Clym in action by booking a demo or reaching out to us to discuss your specific needs today.



FAQs About User Consent

What is User Consent?

User consent in the digital context means a user agreeing to allow a website or application to collect, use, or share their personal information. It's a fundamental aspect of data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, ensuring users are informed about and agree to data processing activities.

Why is User Consent Important?

User consent is crucial because it empowers users, ensuring they have control over their personal data. It also helps businesses build trust and transparency with their audience while complying with legal requirements to avoid hefty fines.

What is a Consent Receipt?

A consent receipt is documentation provided to users after they have agreed to their data being collected or used. It details the specifics of their consent, such as what they have agreed to and for what purpose, promoting transparency and accountability.

What Information Should a User Consent Receipt Include?

A user consent receipt should clearly state the identity of the data controller, the specific nature of the consent, and the purpose of data collection. It should be written in understandable language and be easily accessible to the user.

What Are the Different Types Of User Consent?

The primary types of user consent are express or explicit consent, where the user actively agrees to data processing, and implicit or deemed consent, where consent is inferred from the user's actions. Opt-in and opt-out consents are also crucial, representing active agreement or withdrawal of permission, respectively.

How Can My Business Collect and Store User Consent?

Businesses should clearly communicate what they are seeking consent for, provide a user-friendly interface for consent management, keep accurate records of consents, and utilize a Consent Management Platform (CMP) to streamline these processes.