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Learning patterns/Collecting data with personal information

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A learning pattern forreporting
Collecting data with personal information
problemIt is very important to collect and store personal information carefully.
solutionUse these general guidelines to help you get started.
creatorEGalvez (WMF)
created on30 June, 2015

What problem does this solve?[edit]

You might need to collect personal information from people or users. Personal information is data that is protected at a higher level, and you need to follow some special rules.

What is the solution?[edit]

Types of Personal Information[edit]

There may be differences in privacy laws based on where you reside or where the data is being collected. Types of personal information may include:

  • Real names
  • Date of birth
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Racial or ethnic origins
  • Medical conditions or disabilities
  • Address or phone numbers
  • Passwords
  • Social security or other governmental identification numbers
  • Political affiliations or religions

General guidelines to follow when gathering personal information[edit]

  • Be sure to check your local laws. There may be differences in privacy laws based on where you reside or where the data is being collected. To be sure you are collecting, using, and retaining data in a manner compliant with applicable laws, please consult a local privacy attorney.

  • When collecting personal data, always be clear about what will and will not be posted publicly. Under Wikimedia's privacy policy and the laws of some countries, personal is considered "personal information" that should be protected with it's associated with personally identifying information, like a real name (or in the case of Wikimedia's privacy policy, a username).  WMF's statement about user feedback is an example of how Wikimedia tells feedback subjects how it plans on using that feedback.

    • If the clear communication is accomplished via a vendor's privacy policy, ensure that it is viewable in a way that doesn't itself require compromising privacy (e.g., tracking cookies on the vendor's web site).
  • Personal information should be preferably collected in a database separately from username or real name data. If personal data is shared with others, intentionally or unintentionally, users would be better protected because their personal information would not be in the same database. Be sure to check your local laws about which information you are not allowed to collect.

  • If personal information is gathered in a way that it is associated with the username or real name, only share out personal information in an aggregated way that protects the privacy of users.

  • In most cases, you can disclose information, no matter how personal, if the affected user gives explicit permission to. This means that if you want to be public about the personal of specific users, you can, if the affected users explicitly and preferably in writing (e.g. affirmatively marking a check box or emailing permission) gives their consent to disclose that information. Similarly, in surveys, if you are very clear and conspicuous that information disclosed through the survey will be public, then you can disclose the information in most cases. Be sure to check your local laws to make sure this applies to you!

  • If you have any questions about the process for gathering this data, email eval@wikimedia.org. We can assist you or try to find someone who can. Please note that the Wikimedia Foundation cannot provide you with legal advice or representation.

See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]