General Data Protection Regulation in practice


In May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect and shape data protection laws all over Europe. AUSSDA will help social scientists in Austria identify the issues concerning data protection that may be of relevance to their work.

While the GDPR is aiming to reestablish, strengthen and unify the data protection laws within all of the European Union, it will also affect scientific work within the EU. As social scientists, we are used to working with sensitive personal information that individuals entrust us with. We know about age, occupation, and political orientation of individuals who were willing to work with us in surveys or interviews. It is our duty to protect those individuals, while also using this information to further the knowledge on societal development. AUSSDA will help Austrian social scientists meet this challenge, once the new General Data Protection Regulation enters into force on May 25th 2018.

Which areas does the law apply to?

While exceptions concerning science and research exist, the law also addresses work done by the scientific community. The scope of the exemptions is tied to the way the data are distributed and used. Scientists are not allowed to share raw data outside of the research community. AUSSDA offers solutions to share data nevertheless, as we offer to not only archive raw data, but also make scientific use files available for the research community and even offer open access datasets, which meet the requirements of the new GDPR.

What type of data is affected?

Special care has to be placed on any data connected to personal information (e.g. age, education, occupation). As a lot of social science data contain information on individuals, AUSSDA offers guidance on how to anonymize datasets for open access use and provides assistance in choosing the right solution to make data of a particular project publicly available. At AUSSDA you have the opportunity to create and share multiple files for one project, each meeting the demands and requirements of a specific community.

Data minimization in scientific works

Any personal information collected has to be useful for your work as a scientist while also making sure to safeguard the privacy and personal rights of any involved individuals. In order to ensure this, data collected has to be minimized. Although scientific usage enjoys some exceptions from data minimization, researchers must prove that any personal data were handled with utmost care. AUSSDA helps in identifying the information that may be in conflict with the GDPR and provides support when it comes to dealing with such cases.

AUSSDA wants to ensure that social science data can be broadly used. In order to further this goal, we inform about necessary changes which have to be made to deposit an open access file and provide recommendations.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Dimitri Prandner.