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Data protection statement for panel members

The Social Study (TSS) is a large-scale panel designed to capture the opinions, attitudes, and behaviors of the Belgian population across ages 16 and above. This panel is the result of a collaboration between the 11 Belgian universities (KU Leuven, ULB, UAntwerpen, UGent, VUB, ULiège, UMons, UCL, UHasselt, UNamur, USaint-Louis). We ensure the protection of your personal information and take it seriously. To clarify how we use and store the data we collect, we have provided this privacy statement.

Why are we contacting you?

TSS has partnered with Statistics Belgium (Statbel) to generate a representative list of potential participants by using random sampling based on your age, gender, and address.

You have been invited, along with 13,000 other randomly recruited Belgian citizens, to join the panel and complete 6 to 10 questionnaires each year. These questionnaires cover a range of topics, such as religion, overall life satisfaction, and views on social issues. As a panel member, you can opt to complete the questionnaires either online at our platform or offline through postal mail. If you choose to fill out questionnaires on paper, we will digitize them promptly upon receipt.

Your participation in the panel is completely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw from the panel at any time. You are also free to choose which questions you want to answer. If there are any questions that you prefer not to answer, you can skip them. For information about your privacy and rights, see below.

What if you decide not to participate?

Declining to participate in the panel will not result in any negative outcomes for you. If you choose not to join for any reason, we may ask for the reason(s) why, such as a language barrier, health issues, or time constraints. This information aids us in ensuring that the panel members represent the population of Belgium.

What happens with the collected information?

We will treat all personal data with strict confidentiality and in accordance with EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and national data protection laws.

When you register, you’ll need to provide your contact details (your name, address, phone number, and email address). These contact details are kept separately from any survey information that we collect and will only be accessible to authorized staff who manage contact with panel members (panel management). The staff will not have access to your survey information, so they will not know how you answered the questions in the surveys. On the other hand, authorized staff responsible for data management will have access to your survey answers, but not your contact information. This means they won’t be able to determine which data belongs to which specific person.

All survey information will be carefully pseudonymized, which means that all information that could possibly be used to identify you will be separated from other survey information and replaced with a unique random code. In this way, it is no longer directly identifiable which data belongs to which specific person.

The pseudonymized data will be kept securely in a data archive as scientific use files for an indefinite period, and can be accessed by researchers and other interested parties for scientific studies. To access the data, interested parties must first agree to a data use agreement, which mandates using the data exclusively for scientific research, not retaining it longer than necessary, not attempting to indirectly identify panel members and not sharing the data with others.

The research results may be published. We make every effort to keep you informed of these results as well, through a newsletter. Your data will be treated confidentially, ensuring that others cannot determine your participation in the study or the information that originated from you.

What gives us the right to collect your personal data?

TSS relies on the lawful bases of being a task in the public interest and necessary for research and archiving purposes, as outlined in both the General Data Protection Regulation and the Act on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data.

What are my rights?

You possess the right to access the data collected from you, and if the data has not yet been archived, you may also correct or request the deletion of the data provided.

Ethically we will still obtain your consent and you will retain the absolute right to withdraw from our studies at any time should you so wish.

Additionally, you hold the right to file a complaint with the data protection authority.

Who is responsible?

The Social Study is the result of a collaboration between the 11 Belgian universities, all of whom act as data controllers.


For questions as well as for the exercise of your rights, please contact:

All privacy-related aspects of this research are co-monitored by a Data Protection Officer who you can also contact yourself for further questions:
Data Protection Officer (NL):
Data Protection Officer (FR):

For more information about (the processing of) personal data, please visit:
Data Protection Authority (see