IOCS Privacy Policy

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The Institute for Online Consumer Studies (IOCS) is an academic, not-for-profit organization aimed at studying various aspects of consumers' shopping-related behavior, including how consumers evaluate different products and make purchase decisions. We rely on the information provided by our Panel Members, people like you, to help us better understand consumer behavior. In fact, IOCS would not exist without Panel Members who are willing to participate in academic research. Such participation requires the trust of our Members in the protection of the privacy of the information they provide and in the integrity of our researchers.

To ensure maximum protection of your information privacy, we keep the information that you provide in two distinct categories:

  1. Personal Information is information that is uniquely associated with you as an individual (e.g., your name and e-mail address). This information is kept in a secure record for the sole purpose of informing you about new IOCS studies and about rewards that you are to receive as a result of having participated in an IOCS study. Personal information will not be shared with anybody outside of IOCS under any circumstances. 

  2. Anonymous Information is information that does not reveal your identity. This is what is used for the purpose of academic research. It includes different types of attitudes or product preferences that you may report in the course of a study. Upon collection, anonymous information is permanently separated from personal information. Anonymous information is typically processed in aggregate form (i.e., pooled across respondents) and never linked to a Panel Member's personal information.

Both types of information are securely stored, and are used only for the purposes of academic research.



Principles of Privacy at IOCS:

To ensure the security of all participants in IOCS research, we have adopted the following 10 principles from the Canadian Standards Association's Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information:

  1. Accountability: IOCS is responsible for the information under its control and has designated 2 individuals (Professor Gerald Häubl and Kyle Murray) to be accountable to our panel members, the University of Alberta, and IOCS. It the responsibility of these two individuals to ensure that the following principles are adhered to.

  2. Purpose for collection of information: All information collected by IOCS is for academic research and the maintenance of the participant panel only.

  3. Consent: No information will be collected without consent from the participant.

  4. Limiting Collection: The collection of personal information will be limited to that which is necessary for academic research and the maintenance of the participant panel.

  5. Limiting Use, Disclosure and Retention: Personal Information shall not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with the consent of the participant or as required by law. Personal information shall be retained only as long as necessary to meet the demands of on-going academic research.

  6. Accuracy: Personal information shall be as accurate, complete and up-to-date as possible to ensure it reflects an honest and accurate profile of each Panel Member.

  7. Safeguards: IOCS has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of information under our control.

  8. Openness: IOCS shall make readily available to participants specific information about our policies and practices relating to the management of personal information. In many instances this will include a detailed debriefing following participation in an IOCS study or survey. Such a debriefing will make plain the hypotheses of the research, the purpose for the research and rationale behind the research. Moreover, all results of completed and published studies will be made available to Panel Members through IOCS.

  9. Individual Access: Upon request, an individual shall be informed of the existence, and use of his or her personal information and shall be given access to that information. Every participant will be able to amend their information to maintain its accuracy. In addition, each participant can remove him- or herself from the Panel at anytime.

  10. Challenging Compliance: A Panel Member can address all challenges, questions or concerns regarding compliance with the above principles and the protection or their information directly to the 2 designated individuals at any time.



Common Questions (and Answers) about Privacy at IOCS:


Q:

Do you rent, sell or in any other way release my personal information (such as name, address, or email) to anyone?

A:
No! We do not release your personal information to anyone. In fact, at IOCS, your responses are not even stored together with your name or other personal information. When we analyze the data from a given experiment, that data is analyzed separately from any personal information. We store personal information only to maintain the panel, and to keep in contact with our Panel Members.


Q:

How will I be paid for my participation?

A:
The amount of the payment depends on the particular experiment.  For more information please see the Payment section of this website. 


Q:

What types of research do you conduct?

A:
Our research is primarily focused on issues of how consumer behave, but may also include some of the broader areas of marketing, psychology, economics and other relevant academic disciplines. To date the studies conducted at IOCS have involved some type of survey or on-line shopping experiment.



Some Useful Links for Information on Privacy and University Research Standards:
 

Bill C-54
An Act to support and promote electronic commerce by protecting personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances, by providing for the use of electronic means to communicate or record information or transactions and by amending the Canada Evidence Act, the Statutory Instruments Act and the Statute Revision Act.

University of Alberta Standards for the Protection of Human Research Participants
In keeping with the University of Alberta motto, University of Alberta researchers are encouraged to search for and disseminate "whatsoever things are true." The purpose of the ethical standards embodied in this policy is not to limit research activities, but to promote and facilitate the conduct of all research in ways that respect the dignity and preserve the well-being of human research participants.

On-Line Privacy 
Helping Canadians Protect Themselves On-Line

E-Commerce in Canada (fed)
This site is the virtual focal point for information on Canada's Electronic Commerce Strategy.


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