Before collecting information from people whether it’s through recorded interviews, running surveys, or videotaping a presentation or an event, you should ask for consent to use the digital record.


When you gather data from people you should seek their voluntary consent to participate. This will apply when you are hosting speakers, recording meetings (in audio, video or via photographs), conducting surveys or interviews – any time you are collecting information from people in digital form or that will be digitized.

The consent process should consider whether or not the person must agree to have their data used in order to participate. Perhaps your invited speaker doesn’t want you to host a video of their talk on your website – will you cancel the event?

Be sure to seek consent far enough in advance that any disagreements won’t affect how the event proceeds or your overall data plan. The consent process should be clear about what you will do with the data, how the individual can use the data (or digital recording), who else will have access and what they are allowed to do with it, how long you will keep the data, and any limitations on use. If it is the type of data that should be destroyed at a certain point, make that process clear.


Consent policies must be clear, voluntary, and provided far enough in advance that the individual has a true choice to agree or not. Don’t put people “on the spot.” If you are planning to openly share the information (any form, from survey results, raw data, to video footage) be sure the person understands that and agrees to the terms, or don’t use their data. If you are going to use the data widely, consider assuring that the person has the same rights. Make it clear how the data may be used over time – will others have access to analyze it, show it, remix it? Be sure you get consent for these longer-term possibilities and that the person understands the consequences.

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