Guidelines 05/2020 on Consent under Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR)
SECTION 8 CONSENT OBTAINED UNDER DIRECTIVE 95/46/EC
166. Controllers that currently process data on the basis of consent in compliance with national data protection law are not automatically required to completely refresh all existing consent relations with data subjects in preparation for the GDPR. Consent, which has been obtained, to date continues to be valid in so far as it is in line with the conditions laid down in the GDPR.
167. It is important for controllers to review current work processes and records in detail, before 25 May 2018, to be sure existing consents meet the GDPR standard (see Recital 171 of the GDPR). In practice, the GDPR raises the bar with regard to implementing consent mechanisms and introduces several new requirements that require controllers to alter consent mechanisms, rather than rewriting privacy policies alone.
168. For example, as the GDPR requires that a controller must be able to demonstrate that valid consent was obtained, all presumed consents of which no references are kept will automatically be below the consent standard of the GDPR and will need to be renewed. Likewise as the GDPR requires a “statement or a clear affirmative action”, all presumed consents that were based on a more implied form of action by the data subject (e.g. a pre-ticked opt-in box) will also not be apt to the GDPR standard of consent.
169. Furthermore, to be able to demonstrate that consent was obtained or to allow for more granular indications of the data subject’s wishes, operations and IT systems may need revision. Also, mechanisms for data subjects to withdraw their consent easily must be available and information about how to withdraw consent must be provided. If existing procedures for obtaining and managing consent do not meet the GDPR’s standards, controllers will need to obtain fresh GDPR compliant consent.
170. On the other hand, as not all elements named in Articles 13 and 14 must always be present as acondition for informed consent, the extended information obligations under the GDPR do not necessarily oppose the continuity of consent, which has been granted before the GDPR enters into force (see page 15 above). Under Directive 95/46/EC, there was no requirement to inform data subjects of the basis upon which the processing was being conducted.
171. If a controller finds that the consent previously obtained under the old legislation will not meet the standard of GDPR consent, then controllers must undertake action to comply with these standards, for example by refreshing consent in a GDPR-compliant way. Under the GDPR, it is not possible to swap between one lawful basis and another. If a controller is unable to renew consent in a compliant way and is also unable – as a one off situation – to make the transition to GDPR compliance by basing data processing on a different lawful basis while ensuring that continued processing is fair and accounted for, the processing activities must be stopped. In any event, the controller needs to observe the principles of lawful, fair and transparent processing.