Workplan and methodology

The project has been divided into 13 work packages:

  • Coordination and project management
  • Identifying and classifying UGC services
  • Mapping privacy settings  
  • Obtaining consent  
  • Analysis of interoperability of services
  • Impact of common policies and practices
  • Quantitative measurement of end-user attitudes towards privacy
  • Qualitative study of UGC users and UGC non-users attitudes towards privacy
  • Criteria for fair processing information and technical features
  • Toolkit for policy makers and corporate counsel
  • Evaluation  
  • Dissemination and knowledge transfer
  • Cultural differences in the concept of privacy



The research and development work packages are carried out in the context of four distinct, but interdependent project streams: Status Quo Analysis, Consumer Attitudes, Criteria for Fairness and Best Practice. Cultural differences in the concept of privacy are taken into account and analyzed in a special work package. Separate work packages include project management, the evaluation of the research methodology, the effectiveness of the project partners in executing the project and the quality of the project outcomes and dissemination of project outcomes. 




Status-quo analysis


Focusing on current commercial, technological and other practices employed by service providers and the and the existing legal framework within which those providers operate, CONSENT will collect three complementary sets of data:

  • Data on existing services (WP2).
  • Data on current policies and practices, including:

- A mapping of service providers’ privacy settings and fair processing information with a view to identify common purposes for which providers collect use and disclose their users’ personal data (WP3).

- Identifying current practices (including contractual and technological practices) that service providers employ in order to obtain users’ consent (WP4).

- Identifying current policies and practices employed by services providers in relation to the interoperability of UGC and SNS services (WP5).

  • Data on the legal framework operating in participating countries (WPs 5 and 6). CONSENT will apply the knowledge gained through this analysis in a practical consumer context by way of an impact assessment which will examine the extent to which:


- Practices identified as privacy-intrusive according to a set of guidelines established as part of the CONSENT project (WP6).

- Policies and practices on the interoperability of services (WP5) comply with the existing legal framework and the extent to which these practices affect consumers’ right, consumer choice and accepted community values.


The majority of the related tasks will be carried out through desktop research and the analysis of existing legislation, regulatory, self-regulatory and co-regulatory guidance and case law.


Consumer attitudes

CONSENT will use a combination of quantitative (WP7) and qualitative (WP8) methodologies to establish the values and attitudes to privacy of users of UGC and SNS services.


The quantitative phase of the research will measure current levels of awareness of privacy issues, beliefs on privacy practices, evaluation, and current user practices (Behaviour). It is envisaged that web-based questionnaires will be used for the quantitative part of the research and in-depth personal interviews will be employed for the qualitative phase.


Criteria for fairness

The CONSENT project will develop criteria for the privacy friendly use of fair processing information, privacy settings and technological features employed by UGC service providers to obtain user consent (WP9). The development of those criteria will be based on the results of the Status-Quo Analysis and will take into account existing criteria and best/good practices developed in other contexts. These tasks will mainly be carried out through desktop research.


Best practice

The CONSENT project will develop a toolkit for policy-makers and corporate counsel to implement and promote a best practice approach based on the fairness criteria established during the previous phase (WP10). To facilitate this approach, a sound theoretical framework to support the toolkit will be established by analysing theories of the regulation of the internet, including

  • International and national state regulation
  • Co-regulation
  • Self-regulation
  • Technology
  • Education

The CONSENT project will establish the dynamic interrelationship between the different sources of regulation and develop measures appropriate to minimise the risks to privacy, data protection, consumer protection and competition identified in the early stages of the project in accordance with the fairness criteria developed as a result of the contrasting analysis between existing practices and consumer attitudes and expectations.


While the content of the toolkit will depend on the findings and analyses of the earlier research, possible elements which will be considered include:


  • Technical features.
  • Regulatory, self-regulatory and co-regulatory measures
  • Development of industry standards
  • Educational measures



The project’s research methodology, the effectiveness of the project partners in executing the project and the quality of the project outcomes will be evaluated in the course of WP11. The partner responsible for the evaluation of the CONSENT project will not take part in any scientific research carried out as part of the other work packages to ensure scientific autonomy and independent oversight. Evaluation will be based on an Evaluation Plan and Evaluation Criteria developed in cooperation with members of the External Advisory Group. Data collection procedures will be devised to establish if:


  • The project achieved its purpose and objectives.
  • The project outcomes assisted policymakers and other stakeholders.
  • The contribution the individual partners made to the project.


The data will be analysed and relayed to the project coordinator at appropriate intervals as an additional audit function. It will also be integrated in a final summative report for the full project.



Dissemination of the project outcomes will be through a combination of policy workshops, a conference and the project website. The dissemination of the elements that form part of the toolkit to be developed in WP10 will depend on the nature of those elements and will be established in the course of the CONSENT project through discussion between the Steering Committee, the External Advisory Group and relevant stakeholders.



The workpackage details are attached to this article in an PDF file.

Attached file: [download here]

Project Coordinator
Professor Joe Cannataci
University of Groningen

Info Box
Start date: May 2010
End date: April 2013
Grant agreement No.: 244643
EU Contribution: 2,599,570 Euros

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FP7-SSH-2009-A | Work program topic addressed: SSH-2009-3.2.1. - Changes in consumption and consumer markets
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