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Updated March 24, 2014
When visitors send e-mail messages containing personal information to the general NIAMS e-mail box NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov, the NIAMS staff members, or contractors hired to assist the NIAMS in carrying out its mission, respond to the e-mails and file them. We may forward e-mails to another entity within the NIH or another government agency which may be better able to answer the inquiry. We don't share them with anyone else.
Types of Information Collected
When you browse through any website, certain information about your visit can be collected. We automatically collect and temporarily store the following type of information about your visit:
- Domain from which you access the Internet
- IP address (an IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to a computer when surfing the web)
- Operating system and information about the browser used when visiting the site
- Date and time of your visit
- Pages you visited
- Address of the website that connected you to our website (such as google.com or bing.com)
We use this information to measure the number of visitors to our site and its various sections and to help make our site more useful to visitors.
How NIAMS Collects Information
NIAMS uses Webtrends measurement software and Google Analytics software to collect the information in the bulleted list in the "Types of Information Collected" section above. The software collects information automatically and continuously. No personally identifiable information is collected. The NIAMS staff conducts analyses and reports on the aggregated data. The reports are available only to the NIAMS staff and other designated staff and contractors who require this information to perform their duties.
The NIAMS also uses online surveys to collect opinions and feedback from a random sample of visitors. The NIAMS uses the ForeSee Results' American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) online survey to obtain feedback and data on visitors' satisfaction with the NIAMS website. This survey does not collect personally identifiable information. Although the survey invitation pops up for a random sample of visitors, it is optional. If you decline the survey, you will still have access to the identical information and resources at the NIAMS site as those who take the survey. The reports are available only to the NIAMS staff and other designated staff and contractors who require this information to perform their duties.
The NIAMS retains the data from Webtrends, Google Analytics, and ACSI survey results as long as needed to support the mission of the NIAMS website.
The Office of Management and Budget Memo M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies allows Federal agencies to use session and persistent cookies.
When you visit any website, its server may generate a piece of text known as a "cookie" to place on your computer. The cookie allows the server to "remember" specific information about your visit while you are connected.
The cookie makes it easier for you to use the dynamic features of web pages. Cookies from the NIAMS web pages only collect information about your browser's visit to the site; they do not collect personal information about you.
There are two types of cookies, single session (temporary) and multi-session (persistent). 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 M-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 may use persistent cookies to enable our measurement software to differentiate between new and returning NIAMS visitors. Persistent cookies remain on your computer between visits to the NIAMS website until they expire. We use persistent cookies to block repeated invitations to take the ACSI survey. The persistent cookies that block repeated survey invitations expire in 30 days. The OMB Memo M-10-22 Guidance defines our use of persistent cookies as "Usage Tier 2 — Multi-session without Personally Identifiable Information (PII)." The policy says, "This tier encompasses any use of multi-session web measurement and customization technologies when no PII is collected."
How to Opt Out or Disable Cookies
If you do not wish to have session or persistent cookies placed on your computer, you can disable them using your web browser. If you opt out of cookies, you will still have access to all information and resources at the NIAMS website, but you will not be invited to take our online survey. Instructions for disabling or opting out of cookies in the most popular browsers are located at http://www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml. Please note that by following the instructions to opt-out of cookies, you will disable cookies from all sources, not just those from the NIAMS.
How Personal Information Is Protected
You do not have to give us personal information to visit the NIAMS website. However, if you choose to subscribe to one of our e-mail updates, we collect your e-mail address to complete the subscription process (see the section on "Constant Contact Subscription Management" below).
If you choose to provide us with personally identifiable information, that is, information that is personal in nature and which may be used to identify you (for example, through an e-mail message, request for information, paper or electronic form, questionnaire, customer satisfaction survey, epidemiology research study, etc.), we will maintain the information you provide only as long as needed to respond to your question or to fulfill the stated purpose of the communication. If we store your personal information in a record system designed to retrieve information about you by personal identifier (name, personal e-mail address, home mailing address, personal or mobile phone number, etc.), so that we may contact you, we will safeguard the information you provide to us in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (5 U.S.C. Section 552a).
If NIAMS operates a record system designed to retrieve information about you in order to accomplish its mission, a Privacy Act Notification Statement should be prominently and conspicuously displayed on the public-facing website or form which asks you to provide personally identifiable information. The notice must address the following five criteria:
- NIH legal authorization to collect information about you
- Purpose of the information collection
- Routine uses for disclosure of information outside of NIH
- Whether the request made of you is voluntary or mandatory under law
- Effects of non-disclosure if you choose to not provide the requested information.
Data Safeguarding and Privacy
- Purpose of the web measurement and/or customization technology;
- Usage Tier, session type, and technology used;
- Nature of the information collected;
- Purpose and use of the information;
- Whether and to whom the information will be disclosed;
- Privacy safeguards applied to the information;
- Data retention policy for the information;
- Whether the technology is enabled by default or not and why;
- How to opt-out of the web measurement/customization technology;
- Statement that opting-out still permits users to access comparable information or services; and,
- Identities of all third party vendors involved in the measurement and customization process.
Data Retention and Access Limits
The NIAMS will retain data collected using the following technologies long enough to achieve the specified objective for which they were collected. The data generated from these activities falls under the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) General Records Schedule (GRS) 20-item IC "Electronic Records," and will be handled per the requirements of that schedule (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/grs/grs20.html).
How the NIAMS uses third-party websites and applications
Third-Party Websites and Applications (TPWA) are web-based technologies that are not exclusively operated or controlled by the NIAMS, such as non-.gov hosted applications and those embedded on one of our web pages that could cause personally identifiable information (PII) to become available or accessible to the NIAMS. Users of TPWAs often share information with the general public, user community, and/or the third-party operating the website. These actors may use this information in a variety of ways. TPWAs could cause PII to become available or accessible to NIH and the public, regardless of whether the information is explicitly solicited or collected by NIAMS.
The NIAMS has three Facebook pages:
- National Institute of Arthrits and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
- NIAMS Labs
- NIH Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program .
Constant Contact Subscription Management