Categories: controlconsent

Outsourcing [with consent]


Controllers often do not have the means to feasibly or sufficiently process the data they oversee to the extent they desire. In these cases they seek an external processor or third party to handle the process. This typically conflicts with their already obtained consent from their users (their data subjects), as further processing by a third party is not necessarily compatible with the agreed upon purposes. In these situations the controller does not have legally obtained consent for this processing and will be liable if they carry it out.


Third party processors do not inherent user consent granted to a controller, but need each user's consent before they may process their information. The processor cannot contact the necessary users as they have no lawful access to any means to identify them.


  • Controllers wish to outsource processing when it is not feasible or viable to do so themselves.
  • Third party processors want to process information efficiently without needing to address other considerations.
  • The controller does not want to be liable, or damage their reputation.
  • Outsourcing has a strong impact on the security and privacy requirements of organizations. A contract will bind both parties.
  • The outsourced third party will be obliged by all data protection principles to which the controller is, in addition to stricter measures imposed on processors.


Obtain additional (Lawful Consent)[Lawful-Consent] for the specific purposes needed from each user before allowing the third party to process their data. Do not process the data of users who do not consent.

The consent can be seen as a contract establishing what and how data will be processed by the [third party]. The [controller] must also ensure, preferably by a written agreement, that the [third party] strictly follows all conditions relating to data processing that were imposed on [them].


Before outsourcing data processing, it is necessary to obtain consent from the user and create an agreement between the controller and the third party. The consent itself needs to be freely given, informed, specific, and explicit. It should indicate purposes and means (physical or informational) regarding the controller and the third party. There is also an execution dependency between the controller and the user.

Figure 2(b) shows an SI* model explaining the solution of Compagna et al. (2007)



The pattern solves the problem of granting [the consent] necessary to perform out-sourced data processing by assuring [users that their information is] processed according to the contract.


The [controller] may want assurance that the [third party] does not repudiate the data processing agreement and the [user] does not repudiate the consent. As such the controller may decide to use the Non-repudiation pattern.


The scenario described by Compagna et al. (2007) features a Health Care Centre (data controller) and a user (data subject), Bob, who needs constant supervision. The subcontractor, a Sensor Network Provider (third party supplier), installs and maintains the network responsible for automated monitoring of Bob's health. This subcontractor needs additional specific, informed, explicit, and freely given consent from Bob.

This pattern must use Lawful Consent in order to be implemented. It also benefits from using the Non-repudiation pattern.


L. Compagna, P. El Khoury, F. Massacci, R. Thomas, and N. Zannone, “How to capture, model, and verify the knowledge of legal, security, and privacy experts : a pattern-based approach,” ICAIL ’07, 2007.