Using the Blur Tool to protect personally identifiable information (PII)

To protect the privacy of your test participants, it’s important to avoid collecting their personally identifiable information (PII), such as their name, email address, mailing address, etc. in web forms or elsewhere in your research. In addition to protecting their security, it also puts test participants at ease and makes them more comfortable taking your test when they know they aren’t sharing their private information.

Never include tasks that would require sensitive PII. If your tasks could potentially result in a participant showing non-sensitive PII, use the Blur Tool. For more information about sensitive and non-sensitive PII, review this article.

How to use the Blur Tool

UserTesting’s Blur Tool makes it easy to conceal non-sensitive PII as users take your test.

With the Blur Tool, you have the option of blurring any Task in your study. Click the checkbox beneath the task wording.

Blur_task.png

Here's an example of how to write tasks that will be blurred:

  1. In the next task, you will need to log into your account. While you are completing the task, your screen will be blurred to protect your privacy. Move on to the next task when you are ready.

  2. Log into your account. Remember this task is blurred to protect your privacy. Once you have logged in, move on to the next task.

  3. This task is still blurred to protect your privacy. Is any personal information still showing on your screen? If so, please navigate away from that page before moving on to the next task.

When you receive your video results, you will still hear the participant speaking their thoughts aloud as they complete the task, but the video of their entire screen will be blurred, so you will not see their non-sensitive PII.
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Informing your participants about PII and blurring

Using a screener question, screen for participants who are willing to use their real information but let them know that it will be blurred. In the screener, include language such as:

"During this test, you will be required to log into your XYZ Company account. We will blur the task where you enter your login credentials. Are you willing to log into your account?"

  • Yes, I am willing to log into my account
  • No, I am not willing to log into my account
  • I'm not sure

In this example, you would Accept individuals who select "Yes," but Reject individuals who select "No" or "I'm not sure."

Alternative to the Blur Tool

When in doubt about whether you are requiring participants to enter PII or whether you need to use the Blur Tool, the best approach is to provide the test participant with fake information such as email address, name, and credit card information (for example, "John Smith, 123 Main Street, Houston, Texas, 77002.”). Providing fake information shields the user from divulging their own information and prevents having to blur at all. 

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