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Raising Issues About Sponsorship and Data Privacy in Surveys: Does GDPR Matter?

Coordinator 1Mrs Martha McRoy (Pew Research Center)
Coordinator 2Mr Patrick Moynihan (Pew Research Center)
Coordinator 3Ms Danielle Cuddington (Independent Researcher)
Coordinator 4Ms Courtney Nelson (Morning Consult)

Session Details

On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced a common data protection and privacy law across the European Union with the goal of providing residents with greater control over their personal data. Compared to the previous directive governing data privacy, GDPR aims to toughen the conditions needed to acquire consent from individuals while broadening the territorial jurisdiction of the law.

The degree to which these changes will impact survey research designs, practices and outcomes is an open empirical question -- but, by ESRA 2019, answers should be more evident. In this session, we invite academic and non-academic researchers, as well as survey practitioners, to contribute insights from their designs, data, analyses, interpretations and strategic planning in response to GDPR.

One area of interest concerns the adaptation of introductory disclosure language to the requirements of GDPR, specifically characterizations of survey sponsorship as well as mentions of the location and scope of data processing. Experimental designs evaluating whether different versions of the opening to a survey interview yield equivalent survey outcome rates (e.g., cooperation and refusal rates), sample performance, point estimates of attitudes and levels of item-missing data would be especially welcome as differences in any of these measures could mean that survey quality and substantive results are sensitive to disclosure wording. How researchers manage comparisons to and inferences from pre-GDPR data points would also be relevant to this session.

We’d also welcome innovative analytic plans that address, for instance, the relationship between unit and item nonresponse when survey instruments include questions that make salient information provided in GDPR-compliant disclosure language. Another analytic interest area is the degree to which interrelationships between substantive items are impacted by GDPR-influenced design changes -- that is, whether these are “form-resistant correlations” or not.

As an unfolding event, we’re quite open to a variety of perspectives and approaches to studying the implications of GDPR -- and any lookaheads for the field.