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De-identification in surveys

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This option allows you make it more difficult to identify respondents in your survey. Normally lots of information is collected, such as IP address, Geo location and referring page. Normally when using contacts, you can see exactly what each contact responded.

De-identification is the process used to prevent someone’s personal identity from being revealed. For example, contact information used during a survey might be de-identified to preserve privacy for participants. (Wiki)

There is a ‘De-identify survey’ option in CheckMarket which does the following:

  • Disables the collection of IP addresses.
  • Disables the collection of the referring page.
  • Breaks the connection between contacts and their individual responses in the reporting.

If you are using contacts, you will still be able to track your contacts. You will be able to see which of them were invited, reminded, which of them bounced, opted-out, responded, etc. You will still be able to send automatic reminders. You will NOT be able to see their individual answers. In the respondent data, you will be able to see all the metadata in the custom fields that you imported, so make sure that you do not import personal identifiable information (PII) into these fields. If you still need certain meta-data in your reports (e.g. department, age category, level, …), create a hidden question to hold it and then pre-fill that question with the data from the correct custom field. If you want to de-identify the survey, make sure that the data from these hidden questions does not make individual respondents identifiable (for example, by applying filters in the report).

De-identifying all surveys in your account

When you want to de-identify all surveys in your organisation’s CheckMarket account by default, please have your account administrator send this request to our Support Team. From the activation of this setting, all existing surveys for the entire account are de-identified and any new surveys will also automatically be de-identified.

If this setting is activated for your organisation’s account and you wish to turn it off for an individual survey, please contact your account administrator. They will be able to change the setting, as long as the survey is ‘in development’.

De-identifying a specific survey

Only the survey owner or the account administrator can de-identify individual surveys (if all surveys are set to be de-identified at the account level only the account admin can change it).

Follow these steps:

  • Go to the survey.
  • Click on Settings.
  • Click on Options.
  • Select De-identify survey.
  • A warning will appear informing you that you cannot undo this setting anymore after the survey is launched. Click Ok to confirm.
  • Click on Save.
Warning! Once a survey is “Live”, this setting can only be activated and no longer turned off.

Anonymizing is hard!

Making a survey anonymous is harder than you think! Make sure you do not ask personal questions in the survey itself. For instance, if you are conducting an employee satisfaction survey and you ask the department, age, and gender of your respondents, you may be able to identify an individual from the raw data based on rare combinations. Make sure you do not report on groups that are too small.

If you need help, CheckMarket Research team can act as an independent third party. We only report the results in aggregate to a predetermined minimum number of respondents. That way, no one in your organization has access to the raw data in order to identify any individual respondents. Using a third party may encourage respondents to answer more freely, especially if there is a good communication ahead of time. If you are interested, please send us an email about your project.

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