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Police Community Response Survey Was NOT Anonymous… What a Bunch of Monkeys

In May I blogged about the Hawaii County Police Department conducting a Community Response Survey.

In today’s Hawaii Tribune Herald, it was reported:

Between June 1 and June 30, 374 people took the 38-question community satisfaction survey that was released on Monday. The anonymous Internet-based survey was purchased from surveymonkey.com and provided only the results of the survey to the police department.

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said he did not remember a satisfaction survey having been conducted by the department recently…

Now I’m highlighting “Anonymous” because once they purchased the survey from “Survey Monkey” they have access to the IP addresses of everyone that responded to that survey.

From those IP addresses, they can tell who responded to what questions and where they are located.

This is scary to think that the police would call a survey anonymous, but then collect IP addresses of the people conducting the survey.

From the Survey Monkey website itself… it even suggests how the Surveys could turn off the IP Data Collection button…

New_IP

But then why would the Police Department need to pay anything for Survey Monkey when the Data they have released is all available for free using Survey Monkey. By paying for the service… they get the IP Collection.

4 Responses

  1. for those of us who get here too late, the answer is:
    The surveys on surveymonkey are as anonymous **as the creator wants them to be**
    I am not sure how that particular case with the Police was handled, but at smaller scales, if the creator of the survey sent you a link via email, the creator can then decide if s/he wants to match up your email to your response directly… meaning they will know exactly what you responded. Better read it from surveymonkey themselves:

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/blog/en/blog/2010/10/29/privacy-for-survey-respondents/

  2. Just because surveymonkey gives one the ability to store IP addresses doesn’t necessarily mean that the HPD did so. Do you know for a fact that they kept the IP addresses?

    Damon – I know for a “Fact” that they paid Surveymonkey. I’m assuming that they collected IP addresses. Now that I think about it more… I doubt they have anyone that would know what or how to track an IP address is anyway. ;)

  3. How do they then get the user-specific IP information (who is using the IP address) from TWT or HT?

    Also, wouldn’t the IPs be that of the high-speed modems? Anyone could be behind the modems using a NAT firewall router.

    Glad to know that about SurveyMonkey, though. Thx.

  4. I have no idea whether they chose the IP logging address, but there is a bunch of reasons they could have paid surveymonkey that has nothing with keeping IP addresses. Paid subscriptions allow you to have more respondents – the free service survey monkey product is limited to only 100 responses. Also, I didn’t take this survey but if you want any logic in your survey (eg. for people who chose answer 1 ask a followup question, for the rest go on to the next question) you also have to pay for that.

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