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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses the controversy over the role of consent in data protection, as artificial intelligence systems have proliferated in people’s daily lives. Digital consent has been criticized as a meaningless, procedural act because users encounter so many different, long, and complicated terms of service that do not help them effectively assess potential harms or threats. AI systems have played a role in exacerbating existing issues, creating new challenges, and presenting alternative solutions. Most of the critiques and cures for this broken arrangement address choice-making, not consent. As the United States debates whether and why to break up big tech, and the European Union considers enforcement actions under the General Data Protection Regulation and how to update its laws to address tracking techniques in a new AI-driven smart world, consent cannot be confused with choice. Consent must be defined by its moral core, involving clear background conditions, defined scope, knowledge, voluntariness, and fairness. When consent meets these demands, it remains a powerful tool for contributing to meaningful data protection at the individual and societal levels.

Keywords: digital consent, data protection, artificial intelligence systems, terms of service, AI systems, General Data Protection Regulation

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