Online Trial Research: Why Privacy and Security Can’t Be an Afterthought

How to Ensure Project Security for Online Litigation Research

One thing that’s clear from our work with jury research consultants over the years: Privacy and confidentiality for their studies is paramount.

We do our fair share of litigation research at Dialsmith. Historically, it’s been in-person, but recently, more and more, online.

So, as I attended a webinar last week on online qualitative trial research, I wasn’t surprised to hear attendee questions and concerns raised about the privacy and security of online mock trials.

What did surprise me was that the presenters seemed to be caught off guard by these questions as if privacy and security was an afterthought.

It got me thinking…

➥ Are trial researchers struggling to get the straight facts about online security and privacy from their service and technology partners?

➥ Is this preventing some trial researchers from moving forward with online research?

➥ Do consultants know what to ask for?


At Dialsmith, we are transparent about the security protocols and technology we’ve put in place for the online mock trials and focus groups we support.


It’s important for our clients to know that they DO NOT HAVE TO COMPROMISE PRIVACY and SECURITY if they choose to conduct their groups online.



Here is the privacy and security information we share with all of our litigation clients:



We’ve taken a “security first” approach to finding the right web conferencing platform to host our online groups.

After vetting a number of leading web conferencing platforms, we selected ZoomGov to ensure that our clients have the highest level of security without sacrificing video/audio quality and usability. It doesn’t hurt that this is the same platform used by a number of top federal agencies with high security requirements like the DOD and the Department of Justice.

While it’s helpful that ZoomGov shares many of the familiar, user-friendly tools and features with the commercial version of Zoom, ZoomGov is a completely different animal when it comes to security, and here’s why:

    1. ZoomGov is built on a high security backboneGovCloud by Amazon Web Services; GovCloud was built to serve sensitive areas of the US Government
    2. ZoomGov is compliant with federal security standards such as FedRAMP and HIPAA
    3. ZoomGov uses the same level of encryption used by the Pentagon and the Department of Justice

Our online dial testing tools that we pair with our web conferencing platform also offer a number of critical security features that help prevent participants from sharing confidential test material. These include: blocking access to video download and screen cap functions, as well as the ability to add identifying watermarks to videos.



Technology is one piece of the puzzle. The other is employing best practices with the privacy and security protocols we follow. Here’s a rundown of our protocols:


Online mock jury research and online litigationresearch
    1. We use password-protected, project-specific links for all of our research sessions
    2. We set up a secure and confidential “Back Room” for client observations
    3. Client webcams and audio are turned off for anonymity
    4. We do ID checks during participant tech checks both in advance of, and directly before the start of our live sessions
    5. We set up a “waiting room” or virtual “green room” to house participants when they first enter the live session; participants need to be granted access by the host/moderator in order to enter the live session
    6. We can remove a participant at any time and have the option of preventing any participant from joining a session once it’s started
    7. Our moderators restrict use of screen share, chat and other features so that participants cannot converse or interact “on the side”
    8. We keep respondent web cams turned on throughout the session so we can ensure that no one else is observing the session


Hopefully, this provides you with a baseline of the type of privacy and security information to look for from any technology or service partner you’re looking to work with for your online research.

If a partner isn’t proactive about sharing this level of detail, you now have a good idea of what to ask for. (You can check out the details of our Online Litigation Research options here ➥)

Would love to hear your comments and feedback on this topic. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly if you have specific questions or if I can be of further assistance.