Journal Paper: “Respecting the GDPR in Online Interviewed Focus Groups”

Carolina Goberna
Universität Passau


Since March 2020the Coronavirus has limited personal encounters due to social distancing measures. Thus, many data collection techniques relying on face-to-face interaction, like interviews or Focus Groups(FG), are now being practiced in online environments. Such change requires the implementation of innovative measures to comply with Regulation EU 2016/679 (GDPR) and obey national data protection laws. Processing personal data of voluntary participants have to have a lawful ground and a clear purpose behind it. Moreover, the researcher has to respect legal requirements and principles for processing personal data, provide the participants with information about the research procedure and apply security measures to avoid risks to the rights and freedoms of individuals. This process has to apply to any interaction mediated by Web-Conferencing Systems (WCS). The purpose of this paper is to describe the legal requirements for conducting online interviews or FG under social distancing conditions. The project of reference for the application of these requirements is the EU Horizon2020 HELIOS project consisting of the development of a decentralised social media platform.

Keywords: data protection, GDPR, data processing, research, online interview, focus groups, WCS.