Digital Privacy Policy

Thank you for visiting the Department of the Commerce website and reviewing our privacy policy. How we handle information we learn about you from your visit to our website depends upon what you do when visiting our site. Please be assured that the privacy of our visitors is of utmost importance to us. We collect no personally identifiable information about you when you visit our site unless you choose to provide that information to us.

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Digital Privacy Policy

The E-Government Act requires that agencies develop and post on agency websites digital privacy notices consistent with those required for systems of records under the Privacy Act. The Digital Privacy Policy is a general notice on an agency website explaining agency information handling practices. OMB Memoranda M-03-22 and M-10-22 identify the content that must be included in the notice. The Senior Agency Official for Privacy (SAOP) is responsible for the development and maintenance of privacy policies, procedures, and guidance essential to safeguarding the collection, access, use, dissemination, and storage of personally identifiable information (PII) and Privacy Act information. The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) conducts regular and systematic reviews of operating unit websites to ensure that the Department of Commerce (DOC) Web Privacy Policy is appropriately addressed.

Digital Privacy is the protection of personally identifiable or business identifiable information that is collected from respondents through information collection activities or from other sources and that is maintained by the DOC in its information technology (IT) systems. For purposes of this policy, this information is termed “identifiable information.” Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance, consistent with the E-Government Act of 2002, protects personally identifiable information (PII). Commerce, through this policy, is extending the same protection to business identifiable information (BII).

Rapid advancements in computer technology make it possible to store and retrieve vast amounts of data of all kinds quickly and efficiently. These advancements have raised concerns about the impact of IT systems on the privacy of individuals and businesses. The Department of Commerce is committed to protecting identifiable information collected from individuals and businesses to the extent permitted by law. Commerce will treat all identifiable information with fairness and respect, and ensure its integrity reflective of the stewardship responsibility for the information entrusted to it. To address these concerns, DOC has adopted the following privacy principles:

  • Data Minimization: DOC will collect the minimal amount of information necessary from individuals and businesses consistent with the Department’s mission and legal requirements.
  • Transparency: Notice covering the purpose of the collection and use of identifiable information will be provided in a clear manner. Information collected will not be used for any other purpose unless authorized or mandated by law.
  • Accuracy: Information collected will be maintained in a sufficiently accurate, timely, and complete manner to ensure that the interests of the individuals and businesses are protected.
  • Security: Adequate physical and IT security measures will be implemented to ensure that the collection, use, and maintenance of identifiable information is properly safeguarded and the information is promptly destroyed in accordance with approved records control schedules.

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Machine Readable Privacy Policy

The E-Government Act also requires that agencies adopt machine readable technology that alerts users automatically about whether the site privacy practices match their personal privacy preferences so they can make an informed choice about whether to conduct business with that site. Privacy policy in standardized machine-readable format means a statement about site privacy practices written in a standard computer language (not English text) that can be read automatically by a Web browser.

In addition to having the Digital Privacy Policy in machine-readable format, OMB encourages agencies to adopt other privacy protection tools that become available as the technology advances.

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Nature of Information Collected

When you send us personal information (e.g., in an electronic mail message containing a question or comment) or by filling out a form that emails us this information, we only use this information to respond to your request. Such application information is carefully protected by the agency and not available in or retained by web tracking software. We may forward your email to the government employee who can best answer your questions. We do not disclose, give, sell, or transfer any personal information about our visitors, unless required for law enforcement or statute.

We may also collect non-personal information for the purposes of operating and improving our website. For example, we collect technical and usage information, such as your Internet Protocol (IP) address, date and time you accessed our website, browser type and referring URL. This information will be used to create summary statistics, which are used for such purposes as assessing what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications and identifying system performance or problem areas.

The Department’s websites may use cookies and other web technologies to enable certain features and protect unauthorized users (such as children under the age of 13) from accessing certain features of our websites. Web measurement and customization technologies (WMCT) used as cookies may be used on the Department’s websites to remember your online interactions, recognize you when you log in from different devices, to conduct measurement and analysis of usage or to customize your experience. For example, we may use cookies to tailor your experience on our website to your interests and customize your experience based on how you navigate our website. We may also ask your questions about your interests and hobbies to customize your web experience. Cookies are enabled by default to optimize website functionality and customize user experience.

We want to make it clear that we will not obtain personally identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide that information to us. Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, or as otherwise required by law, we do not share any information we receive with anyone else.

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Purpose and Use of Information Collected

The only information that is automatically collected and stored is:

  • The name of the domain from which you access the Department's websites (for example, ED.gov if you are connecting from a Department of Education account, or UMD.edu if you are connecting from the University of Maryland’s domain).
  • The date and time of your visit.
  • The pages you visit on the Department's websites;.
  • The type of browser and operating system used to access our site.
  • The Internet address of the website you came from if it linked you directly to the Department's websites.
  • Search terms that you entered into the Department's website search tool.

If your browser accepts cookies, we may use a session cookie to learn how many different visitors come to the Department's websites. We use this information for statistical purposes and to help us make our sites more useful to you.

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Whether and to Whom Information is Disclosed

DOC will not disclose, give, sell, or transfer any PII about our visitors unless it is required. We may share your information with third parties, including the following situations:

  • Legal Purposes - We may provide your information to third parties as required by law or to cooperate with regulators or law enforcement authority.
  • Health or Safety - We may share your information when we have a good faith belief that there is an emergency that poses a threat to the health or safety of you, another person or the public generally.

    Other possible uses of your information:

  • We may use PII to respond to you, in which case various people may need to see the information you provide in order to provide a response to you. If enough questions or comments come in that are the same, your question (but not your name) may be added to our Questions and Answers section. We use this information to help us improve our site.
  • We may enter information you send into an electronic database to share with attorneys or investigators involved in law enforcement or policy-making.
  • We may share information with other government agencies that have public health or consumer protection duties, in which case DOC or any of those agencies may contact you.
  • In other limited circumstances, including requests from Congress or private individuals, we may be required by law to disclose information you submit.

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Third-Party Social Networking

You may be able to access third-party social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, from the Department’s websites. For example, when you Like or Share one of our posts, that post may appear on your Facebook page. Please note that these websites have their own set of information practices and privacy policies and DOC is not responsible for the information you choose to submit in these forums. The Department will identify any third-party vendor, website or application that is used to assist the agency for web measurement and customization technology. See OMB Memorandum M-10-23, Guidance for Agency Use of Third-Party Websites and Applications (June 25, 2010) for more information.

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Data Retention

Questions and comments are only retained if required by law, or for a specific program need, as specified by the National Archives and Records Administration's General Records Schedule (GRS) 20, Electronic Records or other approved records schedule as applicable.

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Opt Out

Users can choose not to accept the use of these cookies by changing the settings on their local computer's web browser. The USA.gov website, http://www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml, provides general instructions on how to opt out of cookies and other commonly used web measurement and customization technologies. Opting out of cookies still permits users to access comparable information and services; however, it may take longer to navigate or interact with the Department’s websites if a user is required to fill out certain information repeatedly.

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Consent to Your Information Being Collected

All the information users submit to DOC is done on a voluntary basis. When a user clicks the "Submit" button on any of the Web forms found on DOC's sites, they are indicating they are aware of the DOC Privacy Policy provisions and voluntarily consent to the conditions outlined therein.

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Questions and Comments

Send Questions, Comments or Complaints on the Commerce Privacy program to CPO@doc.gov.

 

Office of Privacy and Open Government
Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

Page last updated: October 28, 2016