The UFS Community is committed to the privacy of its visitors. The office collects no personal information about visitors to its website unless they choose to provide that information.
How We Handle Information about Your Visit to Our Website
Information Collected and Stored Automatically: If you (the visitor) do nothing during your visit but browse through the website, read pages, or download information, we (the office) will gather and store certain information about your visit automatically. This information does not identify you personally. We automatically collect and store information such as the following about your visit:
- The Internet domain (for example, “xcompany.com” if you use a private Internet access account, or “yourschool.edu” if you connect from a university’s domain);
- Your IP address (an IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to your computer whenever you are surfing the Web) from which you access our website;
- The type of browser and operating system used to access our site;
- The date and time you access our site;
- The pages you visit; and,
- If you linked to our website from another website, the address of that website. We use this information to help us make our site more useful to visitors—to learn about the number of visitors to our site and the types of technology our visitors use.
Web Measurement Tools
The NOAA Office for Coastal Management uses Google Analytics measurement software to collect the information listed above. The data are automatically sent to Google’s system and the system immediately aggregates the data. Neither the office nor Google ever have access to the specifics of your particular site visits. The staff can only see the aggregate data from all users for a particular time period.
The office gathers this information to improve its websites. We may use the aggregated data to share with our partners and contractors to help improve visitor experiences.
The office also uses online surveys to collect opinions and feedback from a random sample of visitors, including feedback and data on visitors’ satisfaction with its websites. This survey does not collect personally identifiable information (PII). Participation in the survey is voluntary. If you decline the survey, you will still have access to the identical information and resources on the website as those who take the survey. Answers to the survey help the office improve its website to make it easier to use and be more responsive to the needs of its visitors.
Office for Coastal Management staff members conduct analyses and reports on the aggregated data from the survey. The reports are only available to website managers, members of their communications and Web teams, and other designated staff members who require this information to perform their duties.
The office retains the data from Google Analytics and survey results only as long as required by law or needed to support the mission of Office for Coastal Management websites.
For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, this government computer system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage. If such monitoring reveals evidence of possible abuse or criminal activity, such evidence may be provided to appropriate law enforcement officials. Unauthorized attempts to upload or change information on this server are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act or other law.
Information That You Voluntarily Provide
We do not collect personally identifiable information unless you choose to provide it to us. If you provide us with personally identifiable information, for example by sending an e‐mail or by filling out a form and submitting it through our website, we use that information only to respond to your message and to help us provide you with the information and services that you request.
Submitting voluntary information constitutes your consent to the use of the information for the stated purpose. When a user clicks the “Submit” button on any of the Web forms found on our site they are indicating voluntary consent to use of the information they submit for the stated purpose. We do not collect or use information for commercial marketing.
How Information Is Used
The information we collect is used for a variety of purposes (e.g., to respond to requests for information, to fill orders, etc.). We make every effort to disclose clearly how information is used at the point where it is collected so that our users can determine for themselves whether they wish to provide the information.
Sharing of Information
We may share the information you give us with another government agency if your inquiry relates to that agency. In other limited circumstances, such as responses to requests from Congress and private individuals, we may be required by law to disclose information you submit. Before you submi personally identifiable information, such as on an online form, you will be advised as to the purpose and how the information will be used.
Retention of Information
We destroy the information we collect when the purpose for which it was provided has been fulfilled, unless we are required to keep it longer by statute or official policy. Electronically submitted information is maintained and destroyed according to the principles of the Federal Records Act and the regulations and records schedules approved by the National Archives and Records Administration, and in some cases information submitted to us may become an agency record and therefore might be subject to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Links to Other Sites
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memo M‐10‐22, “Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies,” allows federal agencies to use session and persistent cookies. “Cookies” are small bits of text that are either used for the duration of a session (“session cookies”) or saved on a user’s hard drive to identify that user, or information about that user, the next time the user logs on to a website (“persistent cookies”).
The cookie makes it easier for you to use the dynamic features of webpages. Cookies from coast.noaa.gov webpages only collect information about your browser’s visit to the site; they do not collect any personal information about you. We use both temporary “session cookies” and permanent “persistent cookies.” Session cookies last only as long as your Web browser is open. Once you close your browser, the cookie disappears. Persistent cookies are stored on your computer for longer periods.
Session Cookies: We use session cookies for technical purposes such as to enable better navigation through our site. These cookies let our server know that you are continuing a visit to our site. The OMB Memo 10‐22 Guidance defines our use of session cookies as “Usage Tier 1‐Single Session.” The policy says, “This tier encompasses any use of single session Web measurement and customization technologies.”
Persistent Cookies: We use persistent cookies to enable Google Analytics to differentiate between new and returning visitors to our site. Persistent cookies remain on your computer between visits to coast.noaa.gov pages for six months. The persistent cookies that block repeated survey invitations expire in 90 days. The OMB ‐10‐22 guidance memo defines our use of persistent cookies as “Usage Tier 2‐Multi‐session without Personally Identifiable Information (PII).” The policy says, “This tier4 encompasses any use of multi‐session Web measurement and customization technologies when no PII is collected.”
If you do not wish to have session or persistent cookies stored on your machine, you can opt out or disable cookies in your browser. You will still have access to all information and resources at Office for Coastal Management websites. However, turning off cookies may affect the functioning of some department websites. Be aware that disabling cookies in your browser will affect cookie usage at all other websites you visit as well.
To allow Office for Coastal Management website users to save resources temporarily and retrieve them, the organization uses a feature of HTML5 called “Local Storage” on some of its web-based tools. This feature creates a storage file on a user’s local hard drive that holds links to the resources from this website that the individual user identifies as a favorite. No information from this file is transferred to NOAA or any other website. This file can be cleared at any time by clearing the local storage cache of the user’s browser.
Your local storage data will only be accessible in the browser you are currently using. To make your data accessible on other devices, we recommend that you email them to yourself or add them to a “cloud-based” third-party application.
Interaction with Children
This website may offer educational content to children under 13. No personally identifiable information is collected from them unless voluntarily submitted as a request for information or services. The information collected is used to respond to user inquiries or to provide services requested by our users.
Third‐Party Social Media Tools
The UFS Community maintains official pages or accounts on several third‐party websites to better engage with the American public and promote awareness of UFS Community activities, events, news, and information (a list of these tools is highlighted below). The NOAA Office for Coastal Management, as a program office within the National Ocean Service, makes use of some of the third‐party websites or tools. Your activity on those third‐party sites is governed by the security and privacy policies of the third‐party sites. Users of third‐party sites are often sharing information with the public, user community, or the third‐party operating the third‐party site. You should review the privacy policies of third‐party sites before using them and ensure that you understand how your information may be used. You should also adjust privacy settings on your account on any third‐party site to match your preferences.
Your Rights under the Privacy Act
The Privacy Act of 1974 provides safeguards against invasion of personal privacy through the misuse of records by Federal Agencies.
The Privacy Act was passed in 1974 to establish controls over what personal information is collected, maintained, used and disseminated by agencies in the executive branch of the Federal government.
The Privacy Act guarantees three primary rights:
- The right to see records about oneself, subject to Privacy Act exemptions;
- The right to request the amendment of records that are not accurate, relevant, timely or complete; and
- The right of individuals to be protected against unwarranted invasion of their privacy resulting from the collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information.
Requests made under the Privacy Act will be processed under both the Privacy Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to ensure the greatest access to your personal records.