Guidelines 05/2020 on Consent under Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR)
Section 5.1 Demonstrate consent
104. In Article 7(1), the GDPR clearly outlines the explicit obligation of the controller to demonstrate a data subject’s consent. The burden of proof will be on the controller, according to Article 7(1).
105. Recital 42 states: “Where processing is based on the data subject’s consent, the controller should beable to demonstrate that the data subject has given consent to the processing operation.”
106. Controllers are free to develop methods to comply with this provision in a way that is fitting in their daily operations. At the same time, the duty to demonstrate that valid consent has been obtained by a controller, should not in itself lead to excessive amounts of additional data processing. This means that controllers should have enough data to show a link to the processing (to show consent was obtained) but they shouldn’t be collecting any more information than necessary.
107. It is up to the controller to prove that valid consent was obtained from the data subject. The GDPR does not prescribe exactly how this must be done. However, the controller must be able to prove that a data subject in a given case has consented. As long as a data processing activity in question lasts, the obligation to demonstrate consent exists. After the processing activity ends, proof of consent should be kept no longer then strictly necessary for compliance with a legal obligation or for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims, in accordance with Article 17 (3)(b) and (e).
108. For instance, the controller may keep a record of consent statements received, so he can show how consent was obtained, when consent was obtained and the information provided to the data subjectat the time shall be demonstrable. The controller shall also be able to show that the data subject was informed and the controller ́s workflow met all relevant criteria for a valid consent. The rationale behind this obligation in the GDPR is that controllers must be accountable with regard to obtaining valid consent from data subjects and the consent mechanisms they have put in place. For example, in an online context, a controller could retain information on the session in which consent was expressed, together with documentation of the consent workflow at the time of the session, and a copy of the information that was presented to the data subject at that time. It would not be sufficient to merely refer to a correct configuration of the respective website.
109. Example 21: A hospital sets up a scientific research programme, called project X, for which dental records of real patients are necessary. Participants are recruited via telephone calls to patients that voluntarily agreed to be on a list of candidates that may be approached for this purpose. The controller seeks explicit consent from the data subjects for the use of their dental record. Consent is obtained during a phone call by recording an oral statement of the data subject in which the data subject confirms that they agree to the use of their data for the purposes of project X.
110. There is no specific time limit in the GDPR for how long consent will last. How long consent lasts will depend on the context, the scope of the original consent and the expectations of the data subject. If the processing operations change or evolve considerably then the original consent is no longer valid. If this is the case, then new consent needs to be obtained.
111. The EDPB recommends as a best practice that consent should be refreshed at appropriate intervals. Providing all the information again helps to ensure the data subject remains well informed about how their data is being used and how to exercise their rights.