Meaningful Consent - Are You In The Know?


Feb 14, 2023

Do you have mailing lists? Do you store customer information when they place an order or book a service from you? Are you sure that you are storing their information correctly, and do you have their meaningful consent to do so?

A recent court case against Home Depot [1] has brought to light the fact that relying on the implied consent of customers and trusting in your privacy statement may not be enough for a customer to have given their meaningful consent to the business use of their personal data for analysis purposes.

In this particular case, information was shared with Meta in order to determine the effectiveness of Home Depot's advertising on the Facebook platform, but there are so many other instances in which customer data can be used by businesses. Therefore, it is vital to understand what data you are collecting, why you are collecting it, and what you plan to do with it - and perhaps most importantly, ensure that your customers consent to you doing so.

It is usually safe to assume that your customers will not have read your privacy statement, even if you require them to check a box on your website to state that they have. Therefore, you need to make it absolutely clear to them if you plan to provide any of their data, no matter how desensitized, to a third party for analysis or marketing purposes.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has specific guidelines [2] for businesses to follow that detail the steps required to obtain meaningful consent from customers and consumers for the use of their personal information in any form. All franchisees should familiarize themselves with these guidelines and escalate the issue to their franchisor if they have any concerns about their ability to comply with them.

In today's digital era, so much data is gathered about individuals in so many forms that it is easy to develop a picture of their lifestyles and habits. Should this information be misused, it can be catastrophic for both businesses and the individuals involved. The protection of personal data is everybody's responsibility. As a franchisee, you are bound to abide by certain data protection rules. Failing to do so not only damages your reputation but can have far-ranging financial impacts on the entire franchise.