Using the Blur Tool to Protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

At a Glance

This article explains what the Blur Tool is and how to use it to protect personally identifiable information (PII).


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What is the Blur Tool?

UserTesting's Blur Tool allows you to conceal personal information like names, logins, and addresses as users take your test. With the Blur Tool, you can blur any task in your test. When creating an unmoderated test, never include tasks that require prohibited Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Use the Blur Tool when creating your test plan in the UserTesting Platform if your tasks could result in a contributor showing sensitive PII, and therefore violate internal policies and applicable data laws that protect personal information. In addition to protecting their security, blurring sensitive information allows contributors, when they're confident their private information isn't visible, to feel more comfortable taking your test.

For more information about prohibited and sensitive PII, review this article. If your study involves Protected Health Information (PHI), please review our article on collecting insights under HIPAA.

How to Use the Blur Tool

  1. First, select the Blur video to hide PII checkbox beneath the task wording.
    Blur_Tool_contributors.pngHere's are some examples of how to write tasks that will be blurred:

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

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

    "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."

  2. Launch your test as usual.
  3. After receiving the video results, you will still hear the contributor speaking their thoughts aloud as they complete the task. But their entire screen will be blurred in the video, so you will not see their personal information. Note that the video is blurred when saved to our screeners, so no un-blurred version is saved.


Informing Your Contributors

Using a screener question, screen for contributors who are willing to use their real information but let them know 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."

An Alternative to the Blur Tool

Not sure if you should require contributors to enter PII or if you should use the Blur Tool? The best approach is to provide the test contributor with fake information, such as email address, name, and credit card information ("John Smith, 123 Main Street, Houston, Texas, 77002."). Providing fake information shields the user from divulging their own information and spares you from having to blur any details. 

How to Protect PII in a Live Conversation

The Blur Tool is only available for unmoderated tests. If you anticipate or are concerned that PII may be captured in your moderated interview, here are some best practices you can follow:

  • Remind moderators to tell contributors to avoid sharing PII if sharing their screen. This may require the contributor to close tabs and prepare their computer ahead of time or at the beginning of the session.
  • Ask the contributor to turn off screen sharing during times when they cannot avoid revealing PII.
  • Avoid screen sharing during situations where there may be a risk of accidentally revealing PII.
  • If PII is recorded, the test creator can download the video, manually edit out or blur the video in another video editing tool, and then re-upload the session to UserTesting in a separate test.

Learn More

Need more information? Read these related articles.

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