Datahub SSH

Personal data

Tactful Contactless Research

The regular way of dealing with participants in your research is by asking their consent. In some cases however, that might not be possible. Take as an example data you scraped from a large amount of accounts on social media platforms, like Twitter. Considering the large number of persons and the fact that you don’t have their contact details, working on the basis of participant consent is troublesome. However, there are other ‘legal grounds’ for working with personal data.

This manual offers both step-by-step advice on, as well as an in-depth discussion of the legal aspects of scraping data from social media. It also provides the necessary background for researchers planning to work with personal data coming from social media sources. It is a necessary read for everyone working with, or planning to work with social media data in their research.

The text was drafted by Joost Gerritsen of Legal Beetle, a legal consultancy firm specializing in GDPR related consultancy, and has been positively assessed by the legal affairs department of Utrecht University.

The document is offered both as a summary focusing primarily on the practical steps, and in its entirety, providing additional discussion and background.  The guide is a support tool. As soon as you think that participant’s consent is not an appropriate legal basis for your research, please contact the privacy officer or data manager as you most certainly need extra support.