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Privacy Policies

The information on these pages is provided to assist you in finding information that will help you understand the Privacy Act (Public Law 5 U.S.C. § 552a, as amended), as it relates to privacy policies of the U.S. Geological Survey, a bureau of the Department of the Interior. See DOI Privacy Policy.

How We Handle the Information We Gather When You Visit Our Website

The type of information that we receive from your visit to our Web sites depends upon what you do when visiting our sites. We use this information to measure the number of visitors to the different sections of our sites and to help us make our sites more useful to visitors.

Child Privacy - The USGS values the privacy and protection of children in the use of its Web sites. We adhere to the privacy policies stated below in dealing with children 13 years and younger and for all visitors to USGS Web sites. (for more information see "Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998."

It is the policy of the USGS that we will not obtain personal identifying information about you when you visit our Web sites, unless you choose to provide the information to us (for example, through a questionnaire in which you willingly provide such information, or in which you are requesting a publication or other information to be transmitted to you by the USGS).

Identification for Law Enforcement or Unauthorized Use - The only time that we will attempt to identify individual users or to share any information we receive with any parties outside of the USGS is (1) in the course of officially authorized law enforcement investigations or (2) in the event of a suspected attempt to deliberately circumvent our system's security with the intent to gain unauthorized access or to do physical damage (for example, an attack by hackers). In the latter case, information collected about a suspected intruder may be shared with the USGS Information Technology Security Manager (see Contact information below).

Web Server Activity - Like most Web servers on the Internet, USGS servers collect and store within Web access logs all of the information that your Web browser sends when it requests a Web page, including:

It is impossible to determine the actual identity of an individual user from this information. The logs are periodically summarized and analyzed to study site usage over time and to perform other studies to help us improve the site's organization, performance, and usefulness. Monthly extracts of the log files are archived and stored offline at our discretion for an indefinite period of time. Some statistical summaries derived from these data may be retained online or offline at our discretion for an indefinite period of time.

Cookies - Some applications may save a “cookie” on your computer's hard disk to provide a temporary history of actions taken. Cookies are small text files that a web site transfers to your computer to allow the site to remember specific information. If you do not want cookies to be transferred to your computer, you may choose to opt out by modifying your browser options. Opting out of cookies in no way diminishes your access to information or services.

Session cookies do not contain Personally Identifiable Information. Once a browser is closed, the cookies disappear. An example of a session cookie used on some USGS Web sites is the ForeSee Results' American Customer Satisfaction Index survey.

Persistent cookies store information on your computer for longer periods of time. USGS may use persistent cookies on some web sites to improve online services. These persistent cookies do not contain personally identifiable information. USGS does not use persistent cookies that contain Personally Identifiable Information unless specifically stated on the Web page and the visitor has provided explicit consent.

Email or Web Forms - When you send us personal identifying information by contacting us via e-mail (that is, in a message containing a question or comment) or by filling out a form that e-mails us this information, we use it to respond to your requests. We may forward your e-mail or information to other Government employees or contract personnel who are better able to answer your questions.

We do not retain or distribute lists of e-mail addresses to any parties outside the USGS, except as necessary to conduct official U.S. Government business, and we do not distribute lists of e-mail addresses to non-Government entities. Information collected via e-mail or Web form will be retained at our discretion in a readable form for as long as necessary to complete our response. The e-mail or information may be retained in an archival form as required by Federal laws and regulations governing the retention of historical records of Government agencies. For more information, please refer to the National Archives and Records Administration's Records Management Program.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) - Many USGS sites using the file transfer protocol may also store your e-mail address if your Web browser is configured to provide it. By default, most Web browser software does not send your e-mail address; this option is configured through your browser preferences.

Online Surveys - When you voluntarily provide us with personal information as part of an online survey, we use it to perform various quantitative and qualitative analyses to improve customer service and satisfaction. We may forward the information collected to other Government employees or contract personnel to perform the actual analysis. You are under no obligation to participate in such surveys. Non-participation will not inhibit your use of our Web site in any way. If you provided the information to us in error, you may request its removal at any time. Information collected via online surveys may be retained at our discretion for an indefinite period of time.

Ordering Products Online - When you voluntarily provide us with personal information such as name, shipping and billing address, and credit card number when ordering products online, we use the information to fulfill your order. We may forward the information collected to other Government employees or contract personnel or to other computer systems (such as secure electronic commerce servers) to complete the requested transaction.

Third Party Websites and Applications

The USGS utilizes some third-party websites and applications that are not exclusively operated or controlled by a government entity and are not subject to the USGS Privacy Policy. Often these technologies are located on a “.com” website or other location that is not part of an official government domain. All users are encouraged to review the applicable third-party privacy policy, evaluate any potential risks and assess periodically thereafter. Personal Identifiable Information (PII) as defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) may be minimally collected by USGS to accomplish a purpose required by statute, regulation or executive order. In the event that USGS collects PII from a third-party website or application, the USGS Privacy Officer must approve the collection, and the public will be notified via a Federal Register comment period which will contain the type of information being collected, the intended purpose of the collection, the retention period, as well as any other specifics.

Facebook - The USGS maintains official Facebook Pages. Our intention with these Pages is to encourage conversation between the USGS and the public as well as sharing real time information. Your use of Facebook, and the privacy of your information on Facebook, is outlined in the Facebook Privacy page (http://www.facebook.com/privacy/explanation.php). Facebook provides a number of privacy settings and controls to allow you to manage how your personal information is shared with others. The USGS does have access to a subset of this information in the form of basic statistics for the Pages that we maintain. We may use this information in order to improve the effectiveness of our Facebook content to better support the needs of our visitors to those Pages. We do not use or maintain any personally identifiable information related to those statistics. We may, from time to time, run contests or free giveaways using our account(s) where the winner(s) may receive some prize which is delivered by postal carrier. In these cases, the USGS personnel responsible for running that USGS account(s) will request your mailing address via e-mail for the sole purposes of mailing the prize(s) to you. Contest winner(s) who provide their postal mailing address will be done voluntarily.

The USGS permits the public to openly post content to our Pages. If you opt to post content to one of our Pages, your personal name and link to your profile are listed alongside your content posted. This functionality is solely operated by Facebook. While we encourage comments on our Pages, there are some comments which we may consider inappropriate or offensive based upon our Comment Policy (which is stated on each Page). In the event that a comment does violate the USGS Comment Policy, we have the right to delete that content. Before doing so, we do capture the content of that comment for records purposes, but we do not collect the name associated with that content. We are concerned only with the comment itself as to why it was deleted and how it conflicts with our posted Comment Policy. If a comment does contain personally identifiable information within the actual comment text, we will remove the portion classified as personally identifiable information. The USGS is solely interested in our interaction with the general public and not collecting personal identifiable information.

In addition, the USGS may also provide embedded Facebook content within our own pages on the domains in which we own and maintain. In these cases, Facebook may set a persistent cookie as a result of the embedded content. The USGS use of any possible information provided to us through this embedded content will be consistent with the previously stated usage. If there is any more specific use that falls outside of the stated one on this page, that information will be listed directly alongside with the embedded content.

Google+ - The USGS maintains official Google+ Pages. Our intention with these Pages is to encourage conversation between the USGS and the public as well as sharing real time information. Your use of Google+, and the privacy of your information on Google+ is outlined in the Google+ Privacy page. Google+ provides a number of privacy settings and controls to allow you to manage how your personal information is shared with others. The USGS does have access to a subset of this information in the form of basic statistics for the Pages that we maintain. We may use this information in order to improve the effectiveness of our Google+ content to better support the needs of our visitors to those Pages. We do not use or maintain any personally identifiable information related to those statistics. We may, from time to time, run contests or free giveaways using our account(s) where the winner(s) may receive some prize which is delivered by postal carrier. In these cases, the USGS personnel responsible for running that USGS account(s) will request your mailing address via e-mail for the sole purposes of mailing the prize(s) to you. Contest winner(s) who provide their postal mailing address will be done voluntarily.

The USGS permits the public to openly post content to our Pages. If you opt to post content to one of our Pages, your personal name and link to your profile are listed alongside your content posted. This functionality is solely operated by Google+ While we encourage comments on our Pages, there are some comments which we may consider inappropriate or offensive based upon our Comment Policy (which is stated on each Page). In the event that a comment does violate the USGS Comment Policy, we have the right to delete that content. Before doing so, we do capture the content of that comment for records purposes, but we do not collect the name associated with that content. We are concerned only with the comment itself as to why it was deleted and how it conflicts with our posted Comment Policy. If a comment does contain personally identifiable information within the actual comment text, we will remove the portion classified as personally identifiable information. The USGS is solely interested in our interaction with the general public and not collecting personal identifiable information.

In addition, the USGS may also provide embedded Google+ content within our own pages on the domains in which we own and maintain. In these cases, Google+ may set a persistent cookie as a result of the embedded content. The USGS use of any possible information provided to us through this embedded content will be consistent with the previously stated usage. If there is any more specific use that falls outside of the stated one on this page, that information will be listed directly alongside with the embedded content.

Flickr® - The USGS maintains official Flickr account(s) (owned by Yahoo®). Our intention is to share USGS imagery with the public which is also available on the USGS Multimedia Gallery (http://gallery.usgs.gov). Your use of Flickr, and the privacy of your personally identifiable information, as provided by Flickr, can be found on their Yahoo! Privacy page (http://info.yahoo.com/privacy/us/yahoo/flickr/details.html). As part of the Flickr service, anonymous usage statistics (not containing any personally identifiable information) are made available to users to understand the amount of traffic and use of their uploaded content. The USGS may periodically review this usage data to help improve our content. The USGS will not receive any personally identifiable information. We may, from time to time, run contests or free giveaways using our account(s) where the winner(s) may receive some prize which is delivered by postal carrier. In these cases, the USGS personnel responsible for running that USGS account(s) will request your mailing address via e-mail, for the sole purposes of mailing the prize(s) to you. Contest winner(s) who provide their postal mailing address will do so voluntarily.

In addition, USGS may also provide embedded Flickr content within our own pages on the domains which we own and maintain. In these cases, Flickr may set a persistent cookie as a result of the embedded content. The USGS use of any possible information provided to us through this embedded content will be consistent with the previously stated usage. If there is any more specific use that falls outside of the stated one on this page, that information will be listed directly alongside the embedded content.

Twitter - The USGS maintains official Twitter account(s). Our intention is to engage and interact with the public for sharing current USGS information such as live tweeting USGS events or as a customer service tool in responding to requests. Your use of Twitter, and the privacy of your personal information, can be viewed on Twitter's privacy page (http://twitter.com/privacy). In our use of the Twitter service, the USGS does not archive any of your personally identifiable information other than what any public person(s) may see within the content of a tweet (e.g., the Twitter profile name if a USGS account replies to that person(s)). We may, from time to time, run contests or free giveaways using our account(s) where the winner(s) may receive some prize which are delivered by postal carrier. In these cases, the USGS personnel responsible for running that USGS account(s) will request your mailing address via e-mail for the sole purposes of mailing the prize(s) to you and will be completely voluntary.

The USGS may also run scientific experiments using public Twitter data to improve the reporting and scientific capabilities of earthquake monitoring/notification. In these cases, the information would available through various Twitter tools (e.g. - Twitter APIs). In the event that this information is repurposed for public use, the full disclosure of the information being used and displayed will be posted alongside any views or tools available for use by the public.

In addition, USGS may also provide embedded Twitter content within our own page on the domains in which we own and maintain. In these cases, Twitter may set a persistent cookie as a result of the embedded content. The USGS use of any possible information provided to us through this embedded content will be consistent with the previously stated usage. If there is any more specific use that falls outside of the stated one on this page, that information will be listed directly alongside with the embedded content.

YouTube - The USGS maintains official YouTube Channels (owned by Google Inc.™). Our intentions with these channels are to share USGS related videos which are also available in the USGS Multimedia Gallery (http://gallery.usgs.gov). Visitors to YouTube will typically have a persistent cookie sent from YouTube which may include some personal information related to your Google account (if you have one). Information pertaining to what YouTube stores and/or collects for their use can be viewed at their privacy webpage (http://www.youtube.com/t/privacy_at_youtube). YouTube does make a subset of this information available to Channel content owners in order to provide basic video usage information such as state, country, region location, visits, video drop-in/drop-out viewing parts, etc. The USGS may use this statistical information to improve the content of our channel(s) which will improve your viewing experience at the USGS YouTube Channel(s). The USGS does not have access to any personally identifiable information. We may, from time to time, run contests or free giveaways using our account(s) where the winner(s) may receive some prize which is delivered by postal carrier. In these cases, the USGS personnel responsible for running that USGS account(s) will request your mailing address via e-mail for the sole purposes of mailing the prize(s) to you. Contest winner(s) who provide their postal mailing address will do so voluntarily.

In addition, the USGS may also provide embedded YouTube content within our own web pages domains which we own and maintain. YouTube may set a persistent cookie as a result of the embedded content. The USGS use of any possible information provided to us through this embedded content will be consistent with the previously stated usage. If there is any more specific use that falls outside of the stated one on this page, that information will be listed directly alongside with the embedded content.

AddThis: The "Share" function on some USGS sites is provided by a third party, AddThis. The service provider uses cookies and collects information on visitors who use this feature to share USGS content on their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds or other social media or social networking sites. As noted in their privacy policy, AddThis uses this information for its own business purposes, including marketing the information to other parties. AddThis does not collect information from users who do not use the feature.

Google Analytics: "Like many services, Google Analytics uses … cookies to track visitor interactions. These cookies are used to store information, such as what time the current visit occurred, whether the visitor has been to the site before, and what site referred the visitor to the web page. Browsers do not share … cookies across domains" (from the Google Analytics privacy overview). The U.S. Geological Survey does not collect personally identifiable information from these third-party tools, nor provide them with additional PII. We use IP masking in order to share only a portion of the IP address for geolocation.  In addition, Google provides an Opt-out Browser Add-on "to indicate that information about the website visit should not be sent to Google Analytics." USGS does not endorse and makes no representation about the effectiveness of the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on.

 

Pinterest - The USGS may maintain official Pinterest profiles. Our intention with these profiles is to encourage conversation between the USGS and educating the public. Some accounts, like the USGS Store specifically, may be used to share specials, discounts, or share products which are for sale in the USGS's online store. Your use of Pinterest, and the privacy of your information on Pinterest, is outlined in the Pinterest Privacy and Terms page. Pinterest does provide privacy settings and controls to allow you to manage how your personal information is shared with others.

If a Pinterest user or member of the public interacts with USGS through its official Pinterest account, posts comments on an image in a USGS Pinterest collection, requests information or submits feedback through Pinterest, their name, gender, profile photo, free-form biography, location/hometown, website URL and email address, and other personal information provided by the user may be used by USGS to communicate or provide the requested information. The USGS does not collect or share PII through its use of Pinterest, except in unusual circumstances where user interactions indicate evidence of criminal activity, a threat to the government, a threat to the public, or an employee violation of USGS policy. This information may include name, gender, profile photo, free-form biography, location/hometown, website URL, email address, comments and other personal information provided by the user, and may be used to notify the appropriate agency officials or law enforcement organizations.

We may use some of this information in order to improve the effectiveness of our Pinterest content to better support the needs of our visitors to those accounts. We may, from time to time, run contests or free giveaways using our account(s) where the winner(s) may receive some prize which is delivered by postal carrier. In these cases, the USGS personnel responsible for running that USGS account(s) will request your mailing address via e-mail for the sole purposes of mailing the prize(s) to you. Contest winner(s) who provide their postal mailing address will be done voluntarily.

While we encourage comments on our Pinterest accounts, there are some comments which we may consider inappropriate or offensive based upon our Comment Policy (which is stated on each Page). In the event that a comment does violate the USGS Comment Policy, we have the right to delete that content. Before doing so, we do capture the content of that comment for records purposes, but we do not collect the name associated with that content. We are concerned only with the comment itself as to why it was deleted and how it conflicts with our posted Comment Policy. If a comment does contain personally identifiable information within the actual comment text, we will remove the portion classified as personally identifiable information. The USGS is solely interested in our interaction with the general public and not collecting personal identifiable information.

In addition, the USGS may also provide embedded Pinterest content within our own pages on the domains in which we own and maintain. In these cases, Pinterest may set a persistent cookie as a result of the embedded content. The USGS use of any possible information provided to us through this embedded content will be consistent with the previously stated usage. If there is any more specific use that falls outside of the stated one on this page, that information will be listed directly alongside with the embedded content.

Site Security

To provide site security and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, our Government computer system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information or otherwise cause damage. Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this Web site are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act. Information may also be used for authorized law enforcement investigations. For more information, see the section entitled, "Identification for Law Enforcement or Unauthorized Use."

Policy

Contact

If you have questions on USGS privacy or information technology security, contact:

USGS Privacy Officer
Mail Stop 807
National Center
USGS
Reston, VA 20192

USGS Information Technology Security Manager
Mail Stop 802
National Center
USGS
Reston, VA 20192

 

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Page Last Modified: 06-Feb-2014@10:30