IST Programme RESPECT: an IST Programme Project
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RESPECT for confidentiality (data protection)


Research by Karen Rosier and Isabelle Vereecken, under the supervision of Prof. Dr Yves Poullet and Dr Cécile de Terwangne, of CRID, Belgium.

This is an era when it is routine to collect and store data electronically, and data-mining techniques are becoming ever more sophisticated and profitable. Major concerns are therefore raised about the confidentiality of information collected in the course of research, and researchers have a duty to protect the anonymity of their informants.

RESPECT’s work on data protection has been led by CRID, who have reviewed the existing legislation and produced clear guidelines for researchers.

The EU directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, encourages the elaboration of codes of conduct intended to contribute to the proper implementation of national provisions adopted by the Member States pursuant to the directive. These codes of conduct can be elaborated by trade associations or other bodies taking into account the particularities of their activities.

This project workpackage developed guidelines as to how to respect data protection principles in the field of socio-economic research. These guidelines will enable the persons or projects to develop results in compliance with the data protection rules.

  1. Review of existing EU legislation in the field of data protection. The elaboration of a code of conduct on data protection issues has required an analysis of the main principles present in data protection legislation in the EU in the field of data protection. These principles stem from the directive 95/46/EC. The directive leaves the Member States with a margin for manoeuvre and therefore allows for differences to remain. These differences must be highlighted with a view either of reaching a common approach in a set of guidelines applicable to socio-economic research in all Member States or of listing the exceptions and limitations existing in a specific Member State. The project has drawn extensively on the existing knowledge of partners but also involved desk-based and library-based research

  2. Preparation of guidelines. On the basis of the above, a common set of guidelines on how and to what extent personal data may be used in the field of socio-economic research has been elaborated. An overview of some specific data protection issues related to socio-economic research was undertaken in order to address these issues when elaborating the guidelines.

The partners who worked on this workpackage are specialists in data protection issues who will work closely with the ECLIP project to ensure state-of-the-art Europe-wide coverage. They used established links with both provider and user groups throughout Europe to ensure relevant, state-of-the-art coverage, and took account of feedback from users of this site.

final report Final report on confidentiality and data protection

data protection aspects of research Print version of the final report (PDF: 375kb)

buy the report Buy the full report online