As one of the largest European markets, Germany is a major player in the market research space. As a member of the European Union, German data subjects are protected by the GDPR. In addition, German data privacy laws require further protection of personal data.
Market Research in Germany
Based on the German declaration concerning the “ICC/ ESOMAR International Code on Market, Opinion and Social Research and Data Analytics”, and on the “Guideline Concerning Recording and Observation of Group Discussions and Qualitative Interviews” by the Arbeitskreis Deutscher Markt - und Sozialforschungsinstitute e.V., or ADM, data collected in a market research session may only be used in an anonymized or pseudonymized way by the customers commissioning such studies.
In our role as a data processor, Discuss offers the following functionality to help customers stay compliant with German data privacy regulations.
Respondent Location - When an interview is scheduled, the scheduler is required to set the respondents’ location. This allows us to detect interviews with German data subjects and provide proper anonymization
Meeting Room Pseudonyms - Respondents and moderators appear with pseudonyms rather than real names to protect privacy. Phone users are anonymized and phone numbers are never visible
Private Chat - If any sensitive data needs to be shared with tech support to assist in troubleshooting, it can be shared via private chat. All chat messages can be deleted when no longer needed. Private chats are not visible to project members after the interview ends
Anonymized Video Recordings - All German interviews are automatically anonymized in post-processing before they are available to project members. This allows researchers to interact on video during the interview but ensure that faces are not identifiable in the final recording. Recordings can't be unblurred.
Audio-Only Interviews - We also offer audio-only interviews, in which the webcam never comes on. This allows researchers to utilize all the meeting room functionality like Saved Moments, Discussion Guides, integrated translation, and private chat while providing an extra layer of privacy when live video is not required
- Restrict Observer Audio - When there's a session with a simultaneous translator, observers will ONLY be able to hear the translator's audio and not the main meeting room. This is useful to protect the audio of the respondents. This feature needs to be enabled in the project settings.
- Disable Recording - This feature allows recordings to be disabled at a Project or an Interview level. Clients who select the option from their Project Settings can decide to either override all interviews or only apply the feature to new interviews. Recordings status for each session per project can also be seen under the Recording column when project members are in the Overview tab of their project and see Past Interview. In the meeting room, the Help! button will still be availalbe, if Live Support is included.
Do I have to do anything in order for my German interviews to be anonymized?
All interviews must include a respondent country when they are scheduled. When this country is set to Germany, recordings will be anonymized automatically. No further action is needed. If you are doing a multi-country interview, and there are any participants from Germany, the respondent location should be set to Germany to maintain compliance.
Can I undo anonymization in German interviews?
Due to privacy restrictions, it is not possible to turn off the usage of pseudonyms in the meeting room or to maintain non-anonymized recordings. Once a recording is anonymized, it cannot be reversed.
Can I anonymize other interviews, not just German ones?
Our Privacy & Security features are appropriate for many types of interviews, especially when highly sensitive information will be discussed or due to industry regulations. The features are available as a setting on every Discuss project.
Project members have separate options to blur videos and/or to anonymize respondent/moderator names. Collaborators & Editors can turn this on by visiting the Settings tab of their project and checking the appropriate box. This feature must be turned on prior to an interview starting, and once anonymized, a recording cannot be reversed.
Please note that turning this checkbox off will not impact the anonymization of interviews in Germany, which users cannot turn off.
Note that if Blur Interview Recordings is enabled:
Stimuli are blurred
- Mobile Screenshare is blurred
Whiteboard snapshot aren’t blurred
The setting can be turned off at any time by project members, and future recordings in that project will not be anonymized.
If the option to blur recordings is enabled, project members will also be able to also apply blurring to previous interviews or to media upload from the recordings tab.
How do you notify team members of this requirement?
Users are notified of these requirements if they select Germany as a country when using our interactive quote app. In addition, any user scheduling an interview will be notified when they set the respondent country to Germany.
Project owners receive an email detailing our anonymization features when their project kicks off in Germany, and project members viewing recordings will see an informational note explaining why the recordings are anonymized.