Our company creates software that involves sensitive information. We have the opportunity to use a third party service for the temporary video screen capture of user sessions for the purpose of usability testing. The videos would only be retained a few months at most and then deleted.

I'm meeting a barrier with Privacy concerns where it comes to the action of video screen capture. Is there any research or has anyone encountered this? What have you done to resolve this issue?

I'd love to capture the user behaviour 'in the wild'. We could try live user testing however the act of being a presence watching 'over their shoulder' can sometimes skew the results.

Also I should note - We are in Canada and the third party service is in the States.

  • 1
    How are you capturing the video? Is it just the user's onscreen behavior? Is it limited to their browser session or can you see other Windows? Are you capturing expressions by webcam? Is there a videographer in the room? Hard to answer without knowing what the users are actually experiencing
    – tohster
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 0:22
  • It's a simple screen capture on video of just the interactions on that specific window. The privacy concern is that the information presented is related to other people who not this user. Kind of like an administration screens for a group of people.
    – Pdxd
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 0:31
  • Can you identify the people who are in the video? Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 15:40
  • In this situation its just a recording of the users browser.
    – Pdxd
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


1. Get user consent

Recording usability sessions should not be a huge concern if you have good security policies in place to protect the information you collect. You must to have your participants agree to the procedure. You can find sample consent form here.

2. Allow the user to provide fake info

To further ease concerns that the user may have about their private information, you can either let the user provide fake information about themselves during the usability test, or you can provide fake information for them. Consider the affect this will have on the user going through the flow.

  • For #1 - The sensitive part doesn't involve the user specifically but the information that they are pulling up on other users. It's their consent that can be difficult to capture. We can definitely verify security and the videos will be temporary. Just unsure if we can do the capture at all. Or if this has been done by others. For #2 - I wanted to avoid a scripted test.
    – Pdxd
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 21:07
  • What about creating a small database of fake user info, or masking the info from the real users in some way? If you're going to have someone accessing info on people that have not consented, that is obviously a problem, and it will probably not be feasible to get a database of real people to opt-in. Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 21:11
  • As mentioned, our goal is to observe raw usage behaviour of our tool which is already live, without the presumption of observation. Thoughts? Are there other methods you have used in this scenario?
    – Pdxd
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 21:14
  • @Pdxd It will depend greatly on the privacy policy in place for the data collection in the first place. There won't be a generic solution here, short of working on a test database instead of production.
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Mar 22, 2015 at 22:51

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