What does Understanding Society do with my data?

The security of our participants’ information is one of the most important parts of Understanding Society. Your survey answers and personal information are confidential and safe.

What does Understanding Society do with the information you collect from me?

Your survey answers are always anonymised. Your personal details such as name, address and date of birth are removed, so that you cannot be identified. Your anonymised information is combined with the tens of thousands of survey answers from other Understanding Society participants and is securely deposited in the UK Data Archive, which is based at the University of Essex. Social researchers can register with the UK Data Archive to use Understanding Society data. Understanding Society data can only be used for genuine social research that can demonstrate public interest and not just be used for commercial gain. Your details are never made available to researchers or other companies who might use them for marketing purposes.

Will people using the data know that it’s me?

No. None of the information we deposit in the UK Data Archive contains personal details. There are no names, addresses, phone numbers or email addresses in the data.

Will government departments and agencies know that it’s me?

No. We sometimes ask your permission to link your survey answers to government collected administrative data, such as health or education records. To link the data we give the government agencies the personal information they need to select the correct administrative record, but they are legally required to delete the personal information we send them before they return the administrative records to us. Understanding Society makes the link between the administrative records and your survey answers. No government department or agency can see your survey answers.

You can find more information about how we link to administrative records here.

Is my information secure if I do the survey online?

Yes. The information you provide online is secure. You are issued with a unique log-in for the survey. The information you give us is downloaded on to secure servers.

Who checks that Understanding Society keeps information secure?

Understanding Society is compliant with the ISO-27001 data security protocols and procedures, which is an international standard for information security management. We are regularly inspected by an independent auditor as part of our ISO-27001 certification. Our fieldwork partners, NatCen Social Research and Kantar Public, have also achieved ISO-27000 certification.

Is Understanding Society compliant with the GDPR?

Yes. We are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation. You can read more about Understanding Society and the GDPR here.

Who should I contact if I have concerns about data security?

If you would like to ask Understanding Society a specific question about the security of your information please contact our Participant Liaison Team.