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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Asking for Consent to the Collection of Geographical Information
Year 2017
Access date 10.04.2017

In online surveys lots of paradata can be captured as a byproduct of data collection, for example information about devices and IP addresses. Even though much of this information is automatically send by the browser, its storage and use by researchers is not always compatible with data protection guidelines and informed consent by respondents is required.

We study consent to the request to automatically collect geographical information in a large German online panel. Respondents of wave 4 of the German Internet Panel were asked for consent to automatically track their location using JavaScript. If consent was provided, the IP-address was stored and longitudes and latitudes were derived from it. In addition, the same respondents were asked to report their location (city name and postal code).

Geographical information on the location where the respondents fill in the survey is valuable for both substantial and methodological research. Spatial identifiers can be used to link outside information to the survey to enrich the data set with additional explanatory variables, for example weather or climate data or distances to public place like supermarkets, green spaces, or schools.

Automatically collected geographical information can be assumed to be of higher quality than reported locations, especially for respondents who fill in the survey in unfamiliar places or on the road. While response burden is lower for the automated collection, tracking of IP-addresses can also be perceived as intrusive and raise data protection concerns with respondents.

We address the following research questions:

1. What is the acceptance among the general population in Germany towards digitally collecting information on their geographical location?

2. Are there differences between people who consent to the digital collection of their geographical location and people who fill in information about their location manually in terms of socio-demographic and personality characteristics?

While about 95 % of the respondents report a city name or postal code only about 60 % consent to the digital collection. Both reporting a location and consent to digital collection are influenced by personal characteristics and different characteristics determine the willingness to provide the two types of information.

Year of publication2017
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations

Web survey bibliography - Germany (639)