If you consider signing up for one of Dynata’s panel communities, you might wonder how the company handles all the data you’re asked to share. Will your personal data remain anonymous? Will they share your information with other companies? Dynata collects data in several ways, and in this article, we’ll discuss the impact on you as a respondent.
This article is written for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be used as such.
Why collect so much data?
Originally born out of the merger between the two online data collection companies, Research Now and Survey Sampling International (SSI), the combined company was rebranded as Dynata in January 2019. Their consumer research data covers the habits and preferences of over 60 million respondents globally. The data generated from their surveys are valuable for improving marketing impact and customer experience. The market research conducted by Dynata consists of a diverse set of surveys and consumer data that allow companies to understand their target markets better.
Is Dynata research legit?
Yes, this is a legit company. Dynata is one of the largest market research providers with hundreds of employees and millions of respondents signed up to its many panels. The company is used by some of the most established brands and market research agencies to conduct research on a wide range of topics. Dynata aims to connect consumers to research buyers, providing accurate, connected information that helps researchers and marketers understand their customers and target audiences better.
In which ways do they collect data?
Dynata collects consumer data through several channels:
- Panel profiling questions (e.g. your email address and phone number)
- Online surveys (e.g. your shopping habits)
- Passively tracked data (e.g. IP address and location)
- Telephone surveys (e.g. political polling)
When signing up for one of Dynata’s online panels in the EU, you’ll notice several checkboxes in order to get your consent to share your data.
This is important since it means there are two main types of data which can be shared with Dynata’s 3rd party clients and partners: Profile data and survey data.
Profile data: This includes personal data such as your email, postal code and phone number in addition to a long list of profiling questions related to areas such as your shopping habits, employment and medical history. You’re normally asked to fill in these questions upon registering and will get prompted to update them on a regular basis in the form of “pre-screening” questions to qualify for paid surveys.
In addition to all the questions you’re asked to fill in, Dynata will also passively collect a number of data points. Passively tracked data include:
- Your location (tracked through the mobile apps)
- Country IP (through the browser)
- Device ID (through the mobile app)
- IP address (through your browser)
- Operating system (mobile and browser)
- Machine ID (browser)
- Advertising cookies (e.g. Nielsen’s ad effectiveness program)
Survey data: Survey data include all the answers you provide when answering surveys. Surveys can be conducted on a wide range of topics, such as consumer products, B2B services and medical research.
While profile data belong to Dynata, survey data is shared with the client that commissioned the study. Profile data can also be shared with 3rd parties, but the data can only be shared for market research purposes. Such as analysing advertising effectiveness or creating segmentation models. As an example, Dynata will not sell your data to another company for the purpose of advertising products or services. This would be in breach of data privacy regulations in the EU and other regions.
Data Collection sources
Dynata collects information from various sources, including external third-party panels and proprietary communities. This information may include profile information from individuals who interact with Dynata through these platforms.
Some of Dynata’s panel brands used to gather survey data:
You can check our directory of all Dynata communities.
Types of personal data collected by Dynata
Personal Identifiable Information (PII) collected by Dynata includes data such as name, email address, and postal code. This information is collected and used by Dynata for various purposes, including marketing insights, fraud detection, and demographic data. Individual-level data may also be licensed to other companies by Dynata for other purposes.
Examples of personal data collected by Dynata:
- First and last names
- Email address
- Telephone number(s)
- Residential address
- Job title and department
- IP address
- Browser type
- Operating system
Remember that the definition of personal data under certain jurisdictions such as GDPR in the EU is very broad. It includes any information that can be used to identify a person, such as combining different survey answers. Career history for example qualifies as personal data, even if a person’s name has been removed from the resumé. Since so much of Dynata’s data can be regarded as personally identifiable information (PII), they also need to pay extra attention to how they share and store such data.
Dynata data breach
A Dynata data breach occurred in 2019 and involved an unsecured database that contained personally identifiable information (PII) for a large amount of Dynata’s survey participants. The incident was discovered by cybersecurity researchers who found an Elasticsearch database that was publicly accessible without any password protection.
After discovering the breach, Dynata worked to secure the database and investigate the incident. The company stated that it had no evidence that any of the exposed data had been misused. However, as a precaution, Dynata advised affected individuals to monitor their financial accounts and credit reports for any unauthorized activity.
According to reports on the Dynata data breach, the customer data that was exposed in the incident included data from several different panel sites that were owned and operated by Dynata. These included websites like Opinion World, Opinion Outpost, and QuickThoughts, among others.
Here is the data breach statement issued by Dynata on its website:
Dynata is committed to protecting the privacy of individuals’ personal data. We take this responsibility seriously and have implemented rigorous measures to ensure your data is protected. Regrettably, a recent breach of one of our databases has occurred, and some personal information has been exposed. We are conducting a thorough investigation and will work to ensure that this situation is rectified.
On November 5, 2019, we identified a third-party vendor that had inadvertently exposed an unsecured database containing some of our data. The database did not contain any sensitive personal data or financial information. However, it did contain records that included some personal information, such as names, physical and email addresses, and certain information contained in survey questionnaires.
What We’re Doing
As soon as we discovered this issue, we promptly took steps to secure the database and verify the vendor’s other data handling practices. We immediately launched an investigation and have been working with the vendor to understand the scope of the exposure and to take steps to rectify it. We have also notified our clients and have provided them with the details of the data that may have been affected.
What You Can Do
We have no reason to believe that the exposed data has been misused or that individuals’ privacy has been compromised. However, as a precaution, we recommend that you remain vigilant for any suspicious communications that you may receive. We also recommend that you review any information you have shared on any Dynata surveys or with Dynata representatives to ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date.
We regret any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause you. We take your privacy seriously, and we are committed to taking all necessary steps to protect your information.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our privacy team at [email protected].”
Dynata clearly dealt with the incident in a swift and professional manner. At the same time, it’s a strong reminder of how vulnerable we are when leaving behind sensitive personal data when taking surveys.
Dynata telephone surveys
Dynata operates a number of call centres with thousands of part-time call centre agents located in the US and overseas. This is a completely different business unit, separated from the online survey business. Phone surveys are used to gather opinions, attitudes, and information about a specific topic or product for the purpose of market research and political polling.
Dynata spam calls
Checking reviews on sites such as Trustpilot, you’ll quickly notice a number of complaints from people receiving unwanted phone calls from Dynata, calling out spam calls. While Dynata is a legit company, it’s hard to ignore all the negative reviews. However, keeping in mind the thousands of phone calls conducted every year, it’s clear that the negative reviews represent a very small proportion of their total amount of calls.
How to avoid Dynata research spam
The best thing you can do to avoid Dynata spam calls is to opt out of their database. You have to let them know you don’t like to be contacted, and your number will be added to their no-contact list. Residents in North America should call 1-833-757-1746, while those outside North America should call 1-801-341-0764.
It’s easy to think that you’re targeted by scammers when an unknown company calls, asking you a long list of questions. It’s important to keep in mind that Dynata is a market research company that will never try to sell you any products or services. Also, Dynata will never ask for any financial or banking information. If you suspect someone is pretending to represent Dynata in order to scam you by asking for your banking details or credit card information, you should end the call immediately.
Why would dynata call me?
It is possible that Dynata, a global market research firm, may have contacted you because you were selected to participate in a survey or focus group that they are conducting on behalf of one of their clients.
Market research companies like Dynata often conduct surveys and focus groups in order to gather information and insights from consumers and other stakeholders about a particular product, service, or issue. They may use a variety of methods to recruit participants for these studies, such as online surveys, phone interviews, and in-person focus groups.
It is also possible that Dynata or one of its partners had your contact information in their database and you were selected as a potential participant based on your demographics or other criteria that match the target population.
If you have any doubts, you can contact them and ask them to confirm the reason why they have contacted you.
How did Dynata get my number?
Dynata, like many market research firms, may have obtained your contact information through a variety of methods. Some possible ways they might have gotten your number include:
Surveys or online forms: You may have previously participated in a survey or filled out an online form that asked for your contact information.
Public Records: They may have purchased your contact information from companies that collect and sell public records.
Partner companies: They may have received your information from a partner company or another research firm you have interacted with.
Online data scraping: They might have used web scraping tools to collect your contact information from your social media profiles, public forums, or other online sources.
Panel providers: They might have bought your contact information from panel providers with a pool of pre-recruited participants.
It’s worth noting that Dynata is committed to the industry standard of data protection. The company fully complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). In addition, it adheres to the Market Research Society code of conduct guidelines.
It is important to be aware that some of these methods may not be entirely legal or ethical, and how companies obtain personal information is not always clear. If you have concerns about how Dynata obtained your contact information, you can ask the company to clarify its data collection methods.
What is considered personal data?
Personal data is any information that can be used to identify a specific individual. This can include a wide range of information, such as:
Name: including first, middle, and last name.
Contact Information: including email address, postal address, and telephone number.
Demographic information: including age, gender, race, and education level.
Financial information: including credit card numbers, bank account details, and income information.
Personal Identifiers: including Social Security number, passport number, and driver’s license number.
Online Identifiers: including IP addresses, device IDs, and cookies.
Biometric Data: including fingerprints, facial recognition, and DNA.
Health Information: including medical history, treatment information, and genetic information.
Location Data: including GPS location, travel patterns, and other geolocation data.
Behavioral Data: including browsing history, purchase history, and online activity.
This list is not exhaustive, personal data can take many forms, and the definition of personal data can vary depending on the jurisdiction, laws, and regulations of a specific country or region.
It is important to note that Personal data protection laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have a broad definition of personal data and include any information that can be used directly or indirectly to identify an individual.