Tips on Collecting Sensitive Online Survey Data

When conducting surveys, it’s sometimes necessary to collect sensitive online survey data. The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will enforce specific requirements for processing personal data of subjects residing in the EU, and it is essential to abide by the changes.

Online survey data can be considered sensitive for different reasons, such as legal or contractual elements, or other points including:

  • Political opinions
  • Religious beliefs
  • Trade Union membership
  • Health data
  • Data about sexual orientation
  • Biometric data, including IP addresses and cookies

The GDPR is a game changer with regards to collecting and storing data, meaning that it makes good business sense to update your collection and storage processes. Our blog about GDPR compliance with data collection discusses how you can re-establish trust with your customers.

Collecting Sensitive Online Survey Data
Collecting & storing sensitive online survey data

Methods to manage the collection of online survey data

There are lots of ways to collect and store sensitive data. Here are a few:

HTTPS survey links – They are also called ‘secure survey links’, with encryption while responses are being provided. HTTPS provides the extra security of end to end encryption, from the point someone inputs their survey response to being held securely in your SmartSurvey account on our encrypted survey database.

Anonymous surveys – Respondents can answer your questions anonymously, meaning sensitive online survey data such as email address, IP address, or geographical location data, cannot be seen in responses to online questionnaires. This can help respondents to feel more at ease while providing their input.

Limit access to surveys – Another method to manage sensitive data, for Administrators using multi-user accounts, is to limit the access to only the people that need it. The access can be limited by teams, or by means of selecting individual surveys.

Password protection – Adding a password will help to keep your survey secure. Only users who have the password to the link will be able to respond. Administrators can set it up in their accounts, and password changes can be made when needed at varying intervals. In addition, greater password complexity can be used.

Collecting and managing the storage of sensitive data in online surveys can be aided by all of the above-mentioned security measures, reassuring respondents when they provide answers to your online surveys.

This article by Research Live explains the importance of maintaining the balance of trust between businesses and individuals, as researchers are all dealing with personal data and with sensitive information, both from the client side and from the participant’s side.

The UK’s leading blood cancer charity uses SmartSurvey to collect feedback from donors. Read the complete Anthony Nolan case study to learn how the charity captures and manages a range of personal information to fully support the aims of the charity, whilst protecting all stakeholders.

We take data security very seriously and are proud to be fully compliant with the UK Government’s Cyber Essentials Plus Scheme, registered under the Data Protection Act, ISO 27001 certified and fully compliant with the internationally recognised standard for the Information Security Management System (ISMS).

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2 thoughts on “Tips on Collecting Sensitive Online Survey Data

  1. Hi Victoria, really useful articles thank you. I have a question about face-to-face surveys and explicit consent. Is a signature required by a respondent, or is a tick box enough? Thanks

    1. Hi David,
      How do you plan on processing the data? Is it a purely paper survey you’re talking about or are you collecting on a tablet computer into SmartSurvey or something like that?

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