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Edgar A Whitley and Nadja Kanellopoulou (2010)

Privacy and Informed Consent in Online Interactions: Evidence from Expert Focus Groups

ICIS 2010 Proceedings, Paper 126.

This paper draws on evidence from a series of expert focus groups to question the function of “informed consent” in online transactions. Informed consent and related concepts have a key role in much privacy research and are an integral part of much data protection legislation. The research methodology used in this paper was focus groups with expert participants and the paper describes this approach in detail. Four expert groups, with participants from civil society organizations, data protection professionals, public sector organizations and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) took part in the focus groups which ran for a total of 10 hours. This paper reports on the results from the focus groups in terms of a) privacy policies, b) control over the use of personal data, c) consent as a response to regulatory requirements and d) the nature of informed consent. The evidence from the focus groups questions the extent to which informed consent operates in online interactions. This suggests a number of novel research directions that arise from the analysis. The paper ends by suggesting alternative ways of addressing “informed consent” in online interactions.

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