Do you need re-confirmation of client consent already given in each case because of the GDPR? Before sending thousands of e-mails to clients in your database to obtain their consent again, read our article to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water!

During last week, as the D-Day of GDPR has been coming closer I received dozens of e-mails from on-line shops, hotels, travel agencies, consultancy firms and the like where I had on-line client account in the past years.

These data controllers had two kinds of approach regarding GDPR compliance. Some of them sought the renewal of the consent to processing of my personal data. The others simply notified me about the changes of their privacy policy and secured that my personal data will be handled lawfully.

Needless to say, the second approach was more attractive for me. In case of the first type of e-mail, I thought twice whether I really need to maintain my on-line client account before clicking and renewing my consent.

Surveys show that I am not alone with this, and providers who are sending e-mails seeking re-confirmation of consent because of GDPR, face a very low response rate from their clients.

So the question is, which approach should you choose if you would like to be GDPR compliant?

Consent as legal basis

Those, who are seeking the re-confirmation of the consent already given are either unaware of the fact that consent is only one out of the six (6) other legal bases allowed by the GDPR that can serve as valid ground for processing personal data, or they interpret the Regulation too strictly in my opinion.

These data controllers, who are founding the data processing on the consent of data subjects as a legal basis, can easily score an own goal.

Given that "consent" means an activity from the data subject, a not answering customer "says no" to the data processing. This means that you have to stop the sending of any other on-line material, and you shall delete the customer's on-line account.

Are you sure you want to let this happen?

Legitimate interest as a legal basis

Besides "consent" there is another legal basis which can be a valid ground for processing personal data: the legitimate interest of the data controller company.

Those who do not seek re-confirmation, but only notify their clients about the changes have chosen a smarter approach. Instead of the consent of their clients, they based the data processing on their company's legitimate interest in their data privacy policy.

This can be a valid ground for data processing, if the data processing is really necessary for the company to pursue its legitimate interest, and these interests are not overridden by the data subject's fundamental rights.

Consent vs Legitimate interest

It is true that seeking consent is simply and you can do it by sending e-mails, without the involvement of a data protection expert.

At the same time, choosing the legitimate interest as a legal basis means that you have to carry out and document a so-called legitimate interest assessment test which is a mission impossible without a lawyer or other data protection expert.

However, the benefits are clear: in case of seeking re-confirmation of consent, you are risking the loss of the vast majority of your client database.

But in case of you opt for the smarter approach, and with the help of a lawyer or data protection expert, you are able to find a legitimate interest, which permits you to handle the client's personal data, without risking the client's fundamental rights, then you will have to simply notify your clients about the change, but you do not need their "consent" again.


Instead scoring an own goal with GDPR, before sending e-mails to your customers obtaining again of their consent, consult a lawyer specialized in data protection law to find the most appropriate way to comply with GDPR and not lose your client database.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.