Effective: 9/26/2013

Welcome to the Mass.Gov blog portal websites (i.e., websites whose web address start with “http://blog.mass.gov/”) (collectively, the “Blogs”). Your privacy is one of our top priorities. The following policy applies only to the use of the Blogs. As you navigate the Blogs, you will see links that, when clicked, will take you to other websites operated by state agencies (the “Other Commonwealth Websites”) or to other websites external to Massachusetts state government. The Other Commonwealth Websites (including http://mass.gov) have individual privacy policies tailored to the interactions available through each site. You may also see links that will take you to websites external to Massachusetts state government.

In particular, please note that although some of the social media pages used by the Mass.Gov might appear to be part of a web page under the control of the Blogs, some of these sites are actually hosted by a third party provider. Thus when visiting these third party social media sites, you are subject to different privacy policies and terms of service. Please review Mass.Gov Portal’s Social Media Policy to review more detailed information on how the Blogs use specific social media sites and for links to the relevant terms of service and privacy policies for those sites. We strongly suggest that you read the site policies, including the privacy policies, for each Commonwealth website that you visit and any external site that you visit through a link appearing at the Blogs.

A Privacy Partnership.

Your privacy with respect to the use of the Blogs results from a partnership between the Commonwealth and you, the user. At the Blogs, we attempt to protect your privacy to the maximum extent possible. However, because some of the information that we receive through the Blogs is subject to the Public Records Law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 66, Section 10, we cannot ensure absolute privacy. Information that you provide to us through the Blogs may be made available to members of the public under that law. This policy informs you of the information that we collect from you at the Blogs, what we do with it, to whom it may be disseminated, and how you can access it. Based on this information, you can make an informed decision about your use of the Blogs. You can maximize the benefits of your privacy partnership with the Commonwealth by making informed decisions about whether to share personally identifiable information with us through the Blogs.

Personally Identifiable Information.

We use the term “personally identifiable information” to mean any information that could reasonably be used to identify you, including your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, Social Security number, birth date, bank account information, credit card information, or any combination of information that could be used to identify you.

Information Voluntarily Provided by You.

The Blogs collects voluntary information from you through any emails set to the Blogs and comments posted on pages hosted by the Blogs. All such information, including comments and e-mails sent by you to the Blogs may contain personally identifiable information.

Although the Other Commonwealth Websites may request personally identifiable information from you in accordance with their site policies, we request that you do not submit personally identifiable information to the Blogs via email or comments. 

While the Blogs are intended as a medium for communication from and with state agencies, if you need to contact a state agency that is using the Blogs, you should use the contact information for that state agency posted on its Blog.

Information Automatically Collected and Stored by the Blogs.

The Blogs employs the use of “Persistent Cookies.” The purpose of these Persistent Cookies is to collect and aggregate data regarding the Blogs’ visitor activity in order for the Mass.Gov Office to continuously evaluate and improve its website services, including on the Mass.Gov Portal or the Blogs (collectively, the “Offerings”). You may elect to disable the Persistent Cookies. Please be advised that disabling the Persistent Cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with the Blogs.

The Blogs do collect and store your “Internet Protocol (“IP”) address,” (which does not identify you as an individual) indefinitely, as well as information about the date and time of your visit, whether a file you have requested exists, and how many “bytes” of information were transmitted to you over the Web from the Blogs. We use your IP address to assess the frequency of visits to the Blogs and the popularity of its various pages and functions. We will not attempt to match any personally identifiable information that you provide to us with your IP address, unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that doing so would provide information that is relevant and material to a criminal investigation.

Usage Data and Known Persistent Cookies

The Blogs use (or may use) the following tools (each a “Tool” and collectively, the “Tools”):

Tool Name:              Google Analytics™

Purpose:                   Collect information about use of the Blogs

Data Collected:       Google Analytics collects information such as how often users visit the Blogs, what pages they visit when they do so, and what other sites they used prior to coming to the Blogs.

Privacy Policy:       http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html

Terms of Use:          http://www.google.com/analytics/tos.html

Express Opt Out:    N/A

Special Notes:          N/A

 

Tool Name:              Twitter™ widget

Purpose:                   Display various  Twitter feeds on various Blogs

Data Collected:       The Twitter widget uses Twitter’s persistent cookie(s) to allow you to retweet from and access other Twitter functions related to your account.  Twitter accesses this cookie on every page where the Twitter widget is displayed.  This could allow Twitter to determine which websites you have visited.

Privacy Policy:       http://twitter.com/privacy

Terms of Use:          http://twitter.com/tos

Express Opt Out:    1) http://twitter.com/who_to_follow/web_personalized

                                    2) You are not required to log in to your Twitter account (if you have one) to use the Blogs.

Special Notes:          1) Twitter may personalize your user experience on Twitter based on what pages you have visited that contain a Twitter widget

 

Tool Name:              Facebook™ “Like” widget

Purpose:                   Allows user to “Like” a web page and also displays whether user has already “Liked” the web page.

Data Collected:       The Facebook widget uses Facebook’s persistent cookie(s) to determine whether you have “Liked” a page. Facebook accesses this cookie on every page where the Facebook “Like” widget is displayed.  This could allow Facebook to determine which websites you have visited.

Privacy Policy:       http://www.facebook.com/help/186325668085084/ and http://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/

Terms of Use:          http://www.facebook.com/policies/

Express Opt Out:    You are not required to log in to your Facebook account (if you have one) to use the Blogs.

 

We use the information we get from the Tools only to improve the Offerings. The Tools may also collect data such as browser information, operating system, and page views through the implementation of session cookies or persistent cookies. Except as set forth in this privacy policy (e.g., possibly in response to a public records request), we do not combine the information collected through the use of any Tool with personally identifiable information. Although each of the Tools plants a persistent cookie on your web browser to identify you as a unique user the next time you visit the Blogs, the cookie cannot be used by anyone but the software publisher of the respective Tool (the “Software Publisher”). The Software Publisher’s ability to use and share information collected by the Software Publisher about your visits to the Blogs is restricted by the Software Publisher’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, links to which have been provided above. You may prevent the Tools from using persistent cookies by disabling cookies on your browser. Some of the Tools permit you to opt-out of the Tool by allowing that Tool to plant a persistent cookie on your web browser indicating that you have opted out.  If you disable cookies on your browser or use a different browser, different computer, different user account, etc., you will need to opt-out again.   If you allow persistent cookies in your web browser, Software Publishers have the technical ability to track your activity, even if you change your IP address, so long as you are using the web browser where the persistent cookie was planted.  You should refer to the Software Publisher’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use to determine whether they do, in fact, track you via the persistent cookie.

Certain Tools facilitate interaction with third-party social media sites.   Accessing third-party social media functions (whether through a Tool or otherwise) may require you to log in to your social media provider, and that social media provider may plant a persistent cookie on your web browser to keep you logged in.  Any interaction with any such social media provider (whether through a Tool or otherwise) is subject to such social media provider’s site policies, and such provider may plant one or more additional persistent cookies on your web browser as a result of your interaction with it.

Dissemination of Your Personally Identifiable Information.

We do not sell any personally identifiable information collected through the Blogs or submitted to the Commonwealth in conjunction with using functions on the Blogs, and there is no direct or online public access to the information. However, once you voluntarily submit personally identifiable information to us related to your use of the Blogs, its dissemination is governed by the “Public Records Law,” the “Fair Information Practices Act (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 66A), Executive Order 504 , and other applicable laws and regulations. For this reason, part or all of the information you send us may be provided to a member of the public in response to a public records request. There are pieces of information, such as credit card numbers, TIN, username, or password that are not considered public for the purposes of a public records request. For more information on types of data exempted from disclosure under the Public Records Law, please read the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Public Records Law.

In addition, the information that you voluntarily submit will be disclosed only to Commonwealth employees or officials, or those under contract with the Commonwealth, with a “need to know” for purposes of fulfilling their job responsibilities. The information will be used for such purposes as; answering your questions, responding to any requests for assistance, generating summary statistics about usage, auditing applications and detecting fraud, aiding in the planning, design and development of the Blogs, and fulfilling the Commonwealth’s legal obligations.

We will collect and aggregate the information you provide through surveys and through the Blogs’ collection of non-personally identifying analytics data for purposes of market research to improve the Offerings by making them more responsive to customer needs. Where appropriate, we may provide the information you submitted voluntarily through an e-mail to the person or company that is the subject of your inquiry, or to a government agency responsible for the matters referred to in your communication.

Your Access and Opportunity to Correct.

The “Public Records Law” and the “Fair Information Practices Act” provide you certain rights to get information about you that is in our records. To learn more about the circumstances under which you can get and correct this information, please click on the above references to these laws.

Security.

Because information sent to the Commonwealth is not encrypted, you should not send messages containing information that you consider highly sensitive to the Blogs and you should not submit personally identifiable information to the Blogs.  We will not ask you to submit personal information on the Blogs.  Because we will not ask you to submit any personal information on the Blogs, any personal information you submit on the Blogs will not be given the privacy protections set forth in Executive Order 504, which was issued by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008.

Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, no attempts are made to identify individual users or their usage habits.

Policy changes.

We will post substantive changes to this policy at least 30 days before they take effect. Any information we collect under the current privacy policy will remain subject to the terms of this policy. After any changes take effect, all new information we collect, if any, will be subject to the new policy.

Contact Information.

For questions about your privacy while using the Blogs, please contact mass.gov@state.ma.us.

Definitions:

Cookies are files that a website can place on your computer. A cookie file contains unique information that a website can use to track such things as your password, lists of Web pages you have visited, and the date when you last looked at a specific Web page, or to identify your session at a particular website. A cookie file allows the website to recognize you as you click through pages on the site and when you later revisit the site. A website can use cookies to “remember” your preferences, and to record your browsing behavior on the Web. Although you can prevent websites from placing cookies on your computer by using your browser’s preference menu, disabling cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with some websites.

An “Internet Protocol Address” or “IP Address” is a series of numbers that identifies each computer and machine connected to the Internet. An IP address enables a server on a computer network to send you the file that you have requested on the Internet. The IP address disclosed to us may identify the computer from which you are accessing the Internet, or a server owned by your Internet Service Provider. Because it is machine-specific, rather than person-specific, an IP address is not, in and of itself, personally identifiable information.

Social Media. A social media website is a website or a social media application that is usually maintained by an individual and has regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. A social media identity is a specific user identity that has been registered on a third party social media site and is associated with the Agency. Government social media sites or identities typically provide forums for commentary or news on topics related to the government agency that hosts the social media site or has secured the social media identity. A typical social media site (whether hosted by the Agency or a third party) combines text, images, and links to other websites including blogs, wikis, and other media related to the topic and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

“Weblog” or “Blog”. A weblog or blog is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Government blogs typically provide commentary and news on topics related to the government agency hosting the blog. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

“Wiki”. A wiki is a website that uses collaboration software to enable the creation of a number of interlinked web pages. Many authors can contribute to the website and upload content to the site. Government wikis typically provide a venue for commentary and discussion regarding topics related to the government agency hosting the wiki. A typical wiki combines text, images, and links to other web pages outside the wiki also related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.