Some Iconoclastic Thoughts on the Effectiveness of Simplified Notices and Icons for Informing Individuals as Proposed in Article 12(1) and (7) GDPR

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This article critically examines the effectiveness of the requirement to introduce simplified language in privacy notices (Article 12(1) GDPR) and standardised icons (Article 12(7) GDPR) in the context of informed consent for the processing of personal data. In this context, a distinction between individual and systemic issues is introduced: The former denotes problems with individuals’ cognition, and decision-making; the latter encompasses problems of the organization of the wider system underlying the informed consent requirement in the online environment and the resulting constraints that negatively affect individuals. The importance of the distinction between individual and systemic issues lies in the fact that it draws a line between, one the one hand, the issues that - under ideal circumstances - could be tackled by the proposed measures and, on the other hand, issues that are unaffected by the introduction of the proposed measures, regardless of how they are implemented. Hence, it is claimed that the envisioned push to provide better information to individuals through the use of icons and simplified language in notices only aids in ameliorating the negative effects of individual issues – and this is only in a best-case scenario. At the same time, systemic issues are not affected by the introduction of these measures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-520
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Data Protection Law Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Data Protection
  • GDPR
  • information
  • behaviour economics
  • psychology
  • privacy notice

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