back to article European data law: TRASHES 'unambiguous consent' plans

The UK government has raised objections to current EU proposals that would require businesses seeking to rely on "consent" as the lawful basis for processing personal data to ensure that that consent has been unambiguously given "for one or more specific purposes". It said those proposals are "unjustified" and called on EU law …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saving taxpayers money

    That'll be their excuse, because as soon as the UK government signs TTIP, which they're wetting themselves to do, their corporate overlords will be able to sue them for cutting off that lovely senstive data stream that opening up NHS health records and other sources will allow them if explict consent is required

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Saving taxpayers money

      Ah, but the same treaty will mean that European financial companies can sue the US government if it, for example, threatens to cut them off from the dollar market if they lend to, say, Russia.

      After all, these international treaties always work both ways.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Saving taxpayers money

        > but the same treaty will mean that European financial

        > companies can sue the US government

        Hahahahaha - oh, were you serious? Better chack the text of TTIP carefully, then. I think you'll find it works both ways as much as UK-US extradition is two way, ie, not at all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Saving taxpayers money

      but the whole EU needs to agree on the TTIP not just the UK

      1. JohnMurray

        Re: Saving taxpayers money

        And then there was/is TiSA; making TTIP look tame...

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Saving taxpayers money

      how do you know that there TTIP is going to pass so soon? form what I hear its about to fall apart or take years to be complete (it may take as long as 2017) and the UK cant sign it without other EU members agreeing on it aswell and that is becoming unlikely by the day,

      they may be wetting themselves to sign it but the fact is that day may never come my friend, you should know that

      because it sounds like you think that if the UK is the only one that signs it them its pass with in the whole EU but that is wrong the whole EU need to sign it before its pass and if one of them says no then its over for the TTIP

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Saving taxpayers money

        not trying to sound rude just saying because there been mass protests over the TTIP and TPP all around the world

  2. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

    Oh Great

    Does this mean BT, TalkTalk and Virgin will be lining up to circle jerk with Phorm again?

  3. James 51 Silver badge

    Once again the EU is trying to protect us from our own government. Wonder what Farage thinks of that.

    1. Len Silver badge

      I don’t think Farage cares that much about the EU, he only cares about the money he’s raking in. He rakes in the EU subsidies by the boatload, even going as far as joining forces with extremely dodgy people only to open up more pots of money from Brussels. If he cared that much about the EU he would show up for work more regularly, you know, representing the interest of his voters.

      There is some speculation that he fears a Tory majority because that might mean a referendum. The referendum will most likely be in favour of staying in the EU (ironically support for EU membership is at its highest for 23 years, which will spell the end of his party.

      His problem is that most people don’t care about the EU. Ask the British people what their top five priorities are that Westminster should solve and the EU will rarely feature in it. For many it probably won’t even make the top 10. Things such as education, health care, better paying jobs, affordable housing etc. are staples of the top five, membership of the EU is not. Farage discovered this of course, which is why he had to pivot his whole campaign towards something some people _can_ get worked up about, forun people.

      But yes, no doubt he’ll try to spin this as some evil plot to harm British interests. And no doubt some people will fall for it, again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        In a poll just before Christmas, 51% indicated that they would vote to leave the EU.

        1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

          what poll?

          conducted by which firm?

          what were the questions?

          where's the data?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            WIN/Gallup International, survey of EU support in 13 European countries, results published on 21st or 22nd December 2014.

            1. James 51 Silver badge

              Without this context your post seemed to be indicating that 51 percent of the UK would vote to leave. I am sure that there are a lot of people all over the EU would like to leave if only so they have fewer people asking what goes on in their jails and their courts and asks them to explain how all that nasty 'by-product' ended up in that river.

        2. Graham Marsden

          > 51% indicated that they would vote to leave the EU.

          So well within the +/- 3% margin that such polls tend to have that the figures are actually the other way around.

          1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
            Big Brother

            So 48-54% in favour of leaving.

            That could quite easily translate into a landslide depending on who is more likey to turn up on the day to vote.

            Just look at the 2004 North East devolution referendums - 48% turn out with 77% NO!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I think it was actually

          In a poll just before Christmas, 51% of EU criminals and foreign Nationals indicated that they would vote to leave their own the EU country and come claim benefits in soft as shite have some free money for doing SFA Britain

    2. Eponymous Cowherd


      Farage is an obnoxious little maggot who will say and promise anything, irrespective of whether it can be delivered, to gain a few more votes.

      This is the bloke who wanted to scrap the NHS and move to a US style insurance based system. Of course, once he realised that this was the ultimate vote loser he backtracked on that idea, but we can all be sure that he hasn't really changed his mind.

      'Kippers, they'd be fucking funny if so many people weren't being taken in by their bullshit.

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        Re: Farage

        I used to find Farage and the rise of UKIP amusing.

        Then I remembered what I learned during O level History - we did Weimar Germany up to WW2.

        Now I am afraid.

        (Just remove Pedantic grammar from the icon mouseover....)

      2. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: Farage

        Farage is an obnoxious little maggot who will say and promise anything, irrespective of whether it can be delivered, to gain a few more votes.

        So, pretty much like any other politician you could choose to mention?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hear hear, I should be opted out automatically unless I consciously tick the box.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Merry Christmas to you too David

    You might want to sell your granny to the highest bidder, but leave mine alone.

    Why don't you ...[Section removed by public decency filter]... Conservative goverment.

    Happy new year to everyone else.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nation of animal lovers

    We can always trust the British government to make sure the trough always has plenty of fresh swill, invariably at the electorates expense.

    I shudder to imagine what their pandoras box would unleash if we did leave the EU.

  7. Mr Templedene

    I never remember explicitly giving companies like experian permission to hold data on me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Then you didn't expect....

      to not have any credit history and thus credit.

    2. Yes Me Silver badge


      > I never remember explicitly giving companies like experian permission to hold data on me.

      I'm guessing it was in the very small print when you first signed up for a credit card or a bank account that allows overdrafts. Like, if you didn't agree to the very small print, you would never get any credit in the first place.

      1. captain veg

        Re: Experian

        Credit agencies don't (and are not allowed to) operate in France. Hasn't stopped me getting credit.


    3. JohnMurray

      Then you should bother to read the fine print, and the implied conditions!

      Note that your lack of knowledge means that other parties have access to your banking details, such as the DWP via their contract with experian.....

  8. TheWeddingPhotographer

    I wondered that too...

    These credit check agencies.. seem to fall way outside of what id OK in terms of data protection

  9. casaloco

    Could you refuse...

    Could you refuse consent for any electrical, gas or water firm to hold ANY information about you or your house? I can't see how they could disconnect you as that would require them to write down your address, which they wouldn't be allowed to do without your consent. And they could't call you or write to you to ask for consent once you had withdrawn it...

    1. Thesheep

      Re: Could you refuse...

      I think you'll find that that is data about your water/electricity/gas meter, and therefore not personal information as defined under the DPA. And in any case this would fall under the remit of 'data required to carry out a business function'. Nice try though.

    2. nsld

      Re: Could you refuse...

      Yes by simply not buying services or contracting from that supplier.

      The problem with the term "consent to process data" is that it is really broad whereas the article 29 working party is more focussed on specific types of processing such as marketing and communications to the data subject and the specifc and freely informed opt in given by the subject.

  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    It doesn't really matter.

    Like the Working Time Directive, there will be an "opt out" whereby every new contract includes a clause opting employees out of the WTD. Don't sign? No job.

    Same will happen here. Some mealy mouthed legalese will negate the entire thing.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: It doesn't really matter.

      You cannot "opt out" of the working time directive.

      The only thing you can do is to accept slightly longer weekly hours than the strictest set, but no more.

      You still have a minimum hours off between shifts, a maximum hours in one shift, and a set of rules about breaks.

      Unless you're self-employed though. Then it doesn't apply.

      (Though a lot of people who claim to be self-employed actually are not.)

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: It doesn't really matter.

        I remember back over ten years ago whenever you signed a contract with a bank/finance company you also were required to sign another form opting out of the restricted hours from this directive. Slightly longer working hours? The directive restricts you to no more than 48 hours work per week as a right. Signing away that right is the first thing you do when signing that paperwork. You can opt-out as it is neither monitored nor enforced and you will regularly find people in Ops, Legal, M&A etc working 60+ hours per week. They new what they were signing up for but the thought that you cannot effectively opt-out is laughable.

  11. Graham Marsden

    By continuing to read this post...

    ... you automatically and irrevocably consent to have your personal information sold to the highest bidder so it's far to late to start making a fuss about it now!

  12. ratfox Silver badge

    In order to safeguard that consent has been freely-given, consent should not provide a valid legal ground for the processing of personal data in a specific case where there is a clear imbalance between the data subject and the controller and this imbalance makes it unlikely that consent was given freely in all the circumstances of that specific situation,

    Does this mean that it is impossible to ever freely give consent to Google, because of the imbalance of power between the user and the "gateway to the Internet"?

  13. dan1980

    "For consent to be informed, the data subject should be aware at least of the identity of the controller and the purposes of the processing for which the personal data are intended; consent should not be regarded as freely-given if the data subject has no genuine and free choice and is unable to refuse or withdraw consent without detriment."

    By this I hope they are addressing the situation where you (e.g.) buy something online and thus have to have certain information collected but that information is the on-sold or used for in house marketing. Or both.

    One should be able to buy from a store online and have that store restricted such that the information required for the transaction is used ONLY for the transaction unless a separate and completely optional consent is given for the vendor to use it for other purposes.

    Purchase of goods online should never be contingent on you allowing a company to use your information freely just because they have it in their privacy policies.

    1. cyfahead

      "For consent to be informed, the data subject should be aware at least of the identity of the controller and the purposes of the processing for which the personal data are intended; consent should not be regarded as freely-given if the data subject has no genuine and free choice and is unable to refuse or withdraw consent without detriment."

      What happens to free choice after all people supplying our 'free' gateways and services across the Internet boldly point out to us that these services can only continue to appear to be free because our contract with them is essentially a trade of real value, not a gift. The deal proposition is simple "You can use my services if you sell me the right to use your personal data and sell it on to others and any of the derived information I can generate about you from this product and any others that you are signed up to that I also have access to.?

      It is implicit in what is happening now. Anyone not aware of how a 'no user charge' business model works in the dominant economic system, and endaged in this debate, is being disingenuous.

      If what you want on the Internet is a simple analogue of the newspaper advertsiing revenue model then all that is needed is for the EU and any country to pass legislation that prohibits,on pain of blocking, any site that collects any data about where, why and by whom its digital media is read. Beyond, that is, the destination IP address of the endpoint the first packet of the first page transmissio which it collects on its own home territory.

      If I buy a newspaper at a vendor I do not expect to be followed and monitored by a spook as I start paging through it, nor timed as I do the crossword or how few milliseconds I dwell over the editorial on how wonderful Mr Cameron is. Refraining from doing so doesn't stop newspapers from making a profit.

      Delivering an email service and internet connection at a small ISP has cost me for the past 25 years a steady 1 British Pound a month (at current forex rates)... no advertsing no email content scanning no hassle and it worked since before the worldwide web (www.) was implemented.

      That's the access and the email service, a very affordable business model. Similarly running a website, having a few sponsors and a relatievly small number of hits a month on a few banners and your Profit and Loss can soon get to look quite comfortable if you have anything worthwhile to sell or say. Cheaper than print media advertising, and bigger market potential.

      The issue is that OUR DATA is being stolen because in aggregate it is a valuable product in itself. The Internet is in effect its place of production. It is the factory. To the extent that you can monitor who is in the factory, what they are doing and how fast they are blinking you can add value to and create an information product.

      The issue here is that when I contract with anyone for access to their service to deliver the service advertised then that service is the product I want. If the quid quo pro, in legalese 'the quantum', required by the provider of that service in order to create it is the revenue he can get from onselling or otherwise profitably using information derived from my use of the actual product I am 'buying' than it is the value of that product that must be quantized in the contract... YES! an actual monetary estimate of the projected average Gross Profit that is expected to be derived by the provider from his contract with me, based on actuarially confirmed statistics fom his historical records.

      I can then weigh up, myself, if I would rather pay a £1 a month to be free of surveillance or not!!! I can then support the free market's proper functioning by contributing to the establsihment of the myriad small businesses and free actions of individual consumers upon which the 'Classical' model of liberal economics relies, instead of being forced down the gaping maw of every new information oligarch that comes along just because I want to buy a packet of pasta from my local grocery shop!!! They don't want to pay the oligrach's exorbitant ad word rates either. They would be happy with a chalk baoard and few flyers in the postboxes of the houses in their district. So would the local unemployed shop assitants, printers and delivery people. The value now being sucked out of communities by foreign ad lords, media barons and retail chains - online and bricks-and-mortar - will then circulate and stabilise local economies, local communites and local cultures. This in turn will strengthen the resiliance of our societies, economies and technology base from the effects of single large mistakes by politicians and oligarch's... as well as the odd unexpected meteorite, spell of bad weather or X-class coronal mass ejection pointed in our direction.

      It is about changing the game being played, not trying to tweek the rules!

      Tke it a step further. I see nothing in the legislation that addresses requiring me specific permission to the creation of derivitive information about me from seemingly innocuous sources after they have been aggregated. I can write complex SQL-statements (just like everyone else.. right? :-) ) ... I can also indulge in a bit of inferential statistical meodelling if called upon. I don't want that done to any record of any aspect of my existence unless it is in pursuit by an elected AND accountable AND recallable AND identifiable public government employee or appointee in the sole pursuit of assuring my freedoms, health and happiness.

      If anyone lese wants to do anything else with data about me that they think might turn them a profit then they had better tell me in words of one syllable what their value proposition is... and write me a cheque for the balance. Every month.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Adrian 4 Silver badge


    Once .gov has applied a more liberal definition of consent to the law, can it stop wasting taxpayers money on Mr Assange's personal escort ?

    1. Mike007

      Re: Consent

      how is data processing by companies in any way shape or form even slightly related to police persuing an escaped criminal?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Requirement for Consent screws Govt

    I recommend people start to look at the contracts that the Govt is forcing on the IT industry. Under those it is seeking the rights to look at the salaries and employment benefits of people who work on projects for the government. Some only allow the auditors to have access but others allow any civil servant involved in checking whether the Govt has gotten "value for money" to have a look. If employers have to seek real consent from their staff to allow the Government to review this information there would be no one to provide the value for money thus forcing the Govt to pay IT wages to its own in house IT staff

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