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Introducing Participant Account Deletion

In our latest release, participants can choose to delete their account and all of their data. Here we introduces this features and discuss its implications for researchers and participants.
Introducing Participant Account Deletion

Individuals are becoming more and more aware of the value of the privacy of their personal data. This awareness has led to an increase in the number of privacy requests made by users. In line with this awareness, tech giants such as Apple and Google are paying more attention to protecting the privacy of their users. In its latest privacy policy update, Apple extended its security and privacy requirements by mandating app developers to include account deletion functions within their app settings. In response to this requirement, we have included an account deletion function within the Ethica participant app. While this is a mandatory requirement to remain compliant with the App Store policies, we also believe this is a useful feature which provides participants with more control over their data.

In what follows, we will discuss Apple’s recent privacy and data protection policy update, explain how account deletion works in Ethica, and demonstrate how participants can delete their Ethica account.

Apple’s Latest Privacy Guidelines

As part of Apple’s latest update to their privacy and data retention policy, starting from June 30, 2022, all the apps that support account creation must also allow users to opt out and delete their accounts. This account deletion capability gives users more control over their data privacy. Apple provided additional guidelines for app owners as well, including:

  • Providing users with a mechanism for temporary account deactivation is not enough. Rather, app developers must enable users to delete their accounts.
  • In addition to account deletion, users should be able to delete any personal data associated with their accounts.
  • The account deletion feature must also be easy for users to find, preferably be included in the app’s account settings.
  • App developers need to make sure that their in-app privacy policy clearly explains what data their app collects, how it collects the data, for what purposes it uses the data, and their data retention and deletion policies.

Ethica Changes with Respect to This Policy

In order to comply with the above-mentioned policy, we offer participants the option to delete their account. This option is available in the Settings menu of the Android app, the iOS app and the web-based app of Ethica. The overall flow is as explained below:

  • Participants can initiate the account deletion through the Ethica app’s settings.
  • When participants request an account deletion, we email researchers. They have 14 days to reach out to participants and change their mind.
  • If the participants do not revoke their request within this two-week period, their account will be permanently deleted. This process will remove the participant’s account along with all data Ethica has collected from the participant, whether as part of their study participation, or meta-data.
  • The researchers will be informed via email at every step: when the account deletion is requested, in case it’s revoked, or when an account is deleted successfully.

For more details on how the entire flow works, please refer to our reference documentation on this feature.

Wrap up

In an attempt to give participants more control over their data, we have provided an account deletion option which is easily accessible within the Ethica app. This whole process, as discussed, takes 14 days which begins with participants initiating the account deletion and ends with Ethica notifying the researchers that the account has been removed. In every stage of this process, whether participants request or revoke the account deletion, or when the account is completely deleted, the researchers will be notified.