When visitors send e-mail messages containing personal information to the general NIAMS e-mail box NIAMSinfo@mail.nih.gov, NIAMS staff members, or contractors hired to assist 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 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. It does not collect PII. 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.
NIAMS also uses online surveys to collect opinions and feedback from visitors. These surveys do not collect PII. Although the survey appears on webpages, it is optional. If you choose not to take the surveys, you will still have access to the identical information and resources on the website as those who take the surveys. The reports are available only to the NIAMS staff and other designated staff and contractors who require this information to perform their duties.
NIAMS retains the data from these tools 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 on the NIAMS website 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.
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. Instructions for disabling or opting out of cookies in the most popular browsers are located at Web Measurement and Customization Opt-Out. Please note that by following the instructions to opt-out of cookies, you will disable cookies from all sources, not just those from 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 newsletters, we collect your e-mail address to complete the subscription process. (See the section on MailChimp Subscription Management below.).
If you choose to provide us with PII, 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 PII 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
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) 5.2 "Transitory and Intermediary Records" and will be handled per the requirements of that schedule.
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 NIAMS, such as non-.gov hosted applications and those embedded on one of our web pages that could cause PII to become available or accessible to 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 NIAMS and the public, regardless of whether the information is explicitly solicited or collected by NIAMS.
NIAMS may periodically use CrazyEgg to obtain information on how visitors are interacting with webpages on the NIAMS website. This allows NIAMS to evaluate and modify the websites to improve value and usability. The data collected by CrazyEgg includes information about how visitors navigate around a web page and the most commonly clicked links on specific NIAMS web pages. CrazyEgg does not collect PII.
The NIAMS uses Bit.ly to shorten long URLs for use in email messages, Twitter feeds and on Facebook pages. Bit.ly collects and provides data on how often people, as an email recipient or Facebook/Twitter user, click on the shortened URLs. Bit.ly analytics show how many people clicked on the URLs posted by NIAMS. Bit.ly analytics do not provide any PII about the visitors who open the shortened links.
NIAMS posts news and other items of interest to citizens. If you have a Facebook account, you can post comments on some pages or click on the "like" option for individual entries. If you comment or click on the "like" button, PII will be visible to the NIAMS staff and other Facebook site visitors. To create an account, you must provide some personal information, such as name, user name, password, and e-mail address. You have the option to provide additional personal information. The amount of visible personal information will depend on your own Facebook privacy settings. NIAMS will monitor the number of followers and respond to comments and queries via Facebook, but we never takes possession of the PII belonging to Facebook followers. NIAMS does not collect, use or disclose any information about visitors who comment or "like" these pages. Facebook collects and reports on non-PII about activities on Facebook pages. However, as a practice, our comments moderation policy requires the removal of any comments that contain spam or are improper, inflammatory, or offensive. The information is then saved on a password-protected shared drive accessible to NIAMS staff and contractors who require this information to perform their duties. NIAMS does not collect, maintain, disclose or share any information about followers.
MailChimp Subscription Management
NIAMS uses MailChimp to send Updates, alerts and other messages to visitors who subscribe. To subscribe to one of our e-newsletters, you must provide an e-mail address and indicate your subscription preferences, including the items you want to receive. [Subscribe to one of the NIAMS e-newsletters.] The e-mail subscriber lists are password protected by MailChimp. Only the NIAMS managers who send the messages via MailChimp and staff members who monitor the results of e-mail initiatives have access to the subscriber lists. MailChimp never allows access to the subscriber lists to anyone outside of NIAMS for any purpose. MailChimp collects and provides information about the number of messages sent, clicks, and open rates and can track which users click on links. This information is password protected and only available to the NIAMS designated staff who require this information to perform their duties.
NIAMS uses Twitter to send short messages or "tweets" to share information about NIH and NIAMS with visitors and respond to comments and inquiries sent to us via Twitter. While visitors may read the Twitter feeds (@NIH_NIAMS and @NIAMSFunding) without subscribing to them, visitors who want to subscribe to (or follow) these Twitter feeds must create a Twitter account at www.twitter.com. To create an account, you must provide some personal information, such as name, user name, password, and e-mail address. You have the option to provide additional personal information. Most information you provide for a Twitter account is available to the public, but you can modify how much of your information is visible by changing your privacy settings at the Twitter.com website. NIAMS will monitor the number of subscribers and respond to comments and queries via Twitter, but the staff never takes possession of the PII belonging to Twitter followers. However, as a practice, our comments moderation policy requires the removal of any comments that contain spam or are improper, inflammatory, or offensive. The information is then saved on a password-protected shared drive accessible to NIAMS staff and contractors who require this information to perform their duties. NIAMS does not collect, maintain, disclose or share any information about followers.
NIAMS posts videos on YouTube to make them available to all of our visitors. You do not need to register with either YouTube or Google (YouTube owner) to watch our videos. When visitors watch videos, YouTube may record non-PII about its site usage, such as channels used, videos watched, and data transfer details, to improve its services. If you create an account and log on to the YouTube site before watching our videos, YouTube may associate information about your site use with your YouTube account. Commenting on a video while you are logged in would allow others to see information about you associated with your comment; however, the NIAMS videos do not allow viewers to comment at this time. NIAMS does not collect, maintain, disclose or share any information about followers.
NIAMS uses Flickr to upload and share photos and images related to the NIAMS mission. NIAMS is responsible for the uploaded images on NIAMS-sponsored Flickr pages and must ensure that the images assigned for posting meet NIAMS quality standards and comply with all NIH, HHS, and federal policies. Images posted are produced by NIAMS and/or its grantees and may include medical illustrations and other scientific images. Photos posted may also include pre-approved photos of NIAMS employees at events or in labs and clinics for the purpose of promoting the NIAMS mission. You do not need to register with Flickr to view the images on NIAMS' Flickr site. However, if you choose to register, you will not provide PII directly to NIAMS. Most information you provide for a Flickr account is available to the public, but you can modify how much of your information is visible by changing your privacy settings. NIAMS monitors the number of subscribers and responds to comments and queries via Flickr, but the staff never takes possession of the personal information belonging to Flickr followers. NIAMS does not collect, maintain, disclose or share any information about followers.