Just ticking the box: A social informatics model of the consequences of consent

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Given the societal diffusion, proliferation and ubiquity of computerised systems and platforms, it is generally perceived by consumers that systems and eBusiness platforms often pose a threat to the privacy of their supplied information (Srnicek, 2017; Andreotti et al., 2018). Furthermore, as we see the replacement of systems that were once manual and paper-based migrate to digital processes and information systems (Lunt et al., 2019), consent in the information era is reduced to ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ option, often in the form of a tick box. Additionally, despite the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018 as means to provide protection in relation to data processing, we argue that there is a lack of transparency in relation to the intention of this data processing and secondary data use for the purposes of research and marketing, for example. In light of this, we argue that there exists an increasingly difficult challenge to establish a mutual understanding of what consent actually is and what the wider permutations of it represents and comprehends. The lack of mutual understanding, in a digital world that is becoming increasingly reliant on the perceived benefits of acquiring and processing large sets of data (Kitchin, 2014; Breidbach et al., 2019) is deeply problematic. It is not only problematic for the consumer, but also to system developers, platform owners, and data processors alike. To this end, this paper presents a model, derived from action research, which positions the concept of consent within a socio-technical framing. This model approaches consent, in the context of digital platforms and eBusiness and how it comes to be represented in information systems, as a socio-technical construct of moral orders that imbues the feelings, convictions and aspirations of the consumer as they are engaged in the use of digital systems. We offer that consent is merely approached as an attribute in a data model, rather than relaying the communicative understanding of the consumer. This model introduces the areas of information processing systems and information communication systems as two differing interpretations within which digital platforms can be perceived. We offer these two distinctions as a mechanism to explain and, more importantly, explore the notion of the governance of consent and how this comes to be manifested in information systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-534
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Electronic Business (ICEB)
Early online date12 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019
Event19th International Conference on Electronic Business, ICEB 2019 - Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Dec 201912 Dec 2019


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