Policy as of June 5, 2014
Welcome to the website of the Massachusetts Office of Attorney General (AGO). Your privacy is one of our top priorities. This policy informs you of the information that we collect from you at this site, 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 this site. You can maximize the benefits of your privacy partnership with the AGO by making informed decisions about whether to share personally identifiable information with us through this site.
You may see links that will take you to websites external to AGO. In particular, the AGO Blog, Twitter and Flickr pages are 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 the AGO's Web Communication Policies to view more detailed information on how the AGO uses specific social media sites and for links to the relevant terms of service and privacy policies for those sites.
Throughout the AGO website, there are references and links to commercial and other third-party websites. The AGO does not endorse or maintain a relationship with any of these companies or organizations, and is not responsible for the content on these sites. The information on the sites remains the property of the respective owners. The AGO does not express any opinion as to the value or accuracy of the information contained on these sites.
Limited Scope of this Policy
Attorney Client Relationship
Privacy and the Public Records Law
Personally Identifiable Information
Information Voluntarily Provided by You
Information Automatically Collected and Stored by this Site
Dissemination of Your Personally Identifiable Information
Your Access and Opportunity to Correct
Nothing on this website shall be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship or privileged communication between the AGO, any of its employees, and any user of the site. Under the provisions of M.G.L. c.12, § 3, 6, 9, the AGO may only give legal advice or opinions to state officers and agencies on matters relating to their official duties.
The AGO is a public agency and records received by a public agency are presumed to be public records by law, M.G.L. c. 66, s. 10. Therefore, you should know that when you send and we receive information through this website, these records may be subject to disclosure to the public under the Public Records Law.
The AGO does attempt to protect your privacy to the extent possible, subject to the Public Records Law, M.G.L. c. 66, s. 10.
We use the term "personally identifiable information" to mean any information that could reasonably be used to identify you. According to M.G.L. c. 93H s. 1 "personal information" is a resident's first name and last name or first initial and last name in combination with any 1 or more of the following data elements that relate to such resident:
(a) Social Security number;
(b) driver's license number or state-issued identification card number; or
(c) financial account number, or credit or debit card number, with or without any required security code, access code, personal identification number or password, that would permit access to a resident's financial account; provided, however, that "Personal information" shall not include information that is lawfully obtained from publicly available information, or from federal, state or local government records lawfully made available to the general public.
This site may collect information that you provide voluntarily through electronically filed forms and emails.
Electronic Complaint Forms (E-complaints)
Consumers and residents seeking mediation or other resolution of consumer or other concerns may file a complaint with the AGO and this site allows residents to submit electronic complaints (e-complaints) directly to the AGO through the use of an online, web browser-based application. This information is recorded and compiled into a database that will enable the AGO to begin addressing the concern or complaint. These complaints must include certain information, such as your name, email address or phone number, and any other information you choose to give us to help us answer your inquiry.
Under most circumstances, your complaint and any related information will be considered a public record and available to any member of the public upon request.
For information on how to file an e-complaint, please visit this webpage.
This site collects information from you through any email messages you choose to send to the AGO. Any email messages sent by you to this site may contain information such as your email address and any other information you choose to give us to help us answer your inquiry.
In order for the AGO to evaluate and improve its website services, this website employs the uses "Persistent Cookies" to collect and aggregate data regarding the site's visitor activity. The site also uses temporary "session cookies" to allow visitors to interact with the Portal and to use online applications. "Session cookies" do not allow us to identify a visitor personally. These cookies are stored only in memory and are deleted when the user's browser is shut down. While "persistent cookies" could be used to collect information that might identify a visitor, as a matter of policy, the AGO declines to do so and thus in effect, neither the use of persistent nor session cookies will result in the collection of any data that will allow a visitor to be identified. 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 this website.
This site collects and stores 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 this site. IP addresses are used to assess the frequency of visits to this site 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. When you fill out information in a form on Mass.Gov, and other portal sites, we do receive your IP address along with this submission.
Usage Data and Known Persistent Cookies
The Mass.Gov Portal uses (or may use) the following tools (each a “Tool” and collectively, the “Tools”):
Tool Name: Google Analytics™
Purpose: Collect information about use of the Mass.Gov Portal
Data Collected: Google Analytics collects information such as how often users visit the Mass.Gov Portal, what pages they visit when they do so, and what other sites they used prior to coming to the Mass.Gov Portal.
Express Opt Out: N/A
Special Notes: N/A
Tool Name: ForeSee™ provided by ForeSee Results
Purpose: ForeSee is a survey tool that collects voluntary information from you through surveys posted at the Mass.Gov Portal
Data Collected: Surveys may collect personally identifiable information you voluntarily submit, such as name, e-mail address or phone number, so that we may contact you for follow up to your question, concern or recommendation
Express Opt Out: You can opt out of ForeSee collecting information via the survey by declining to participate in the survey when the invitation pops up on the Mass.Gov Portal. If you do opt out of completing the survey or you have completed a survey, ForeSee uses a persistent cookie so that it does not offer the survey to you again when you revisit the Mass.Gov Portal.
Tool Name: Twitter™ widget
Purpose: Display various Twitter feeds on the Mass.Gov Portal
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.
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 Mass.Gov Portal.
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.
Express Opt Out: You are not required to log in to your Facebook account (if you have one) to use the Mass.Gov Portal.
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.
Online Forms on Mass.Gov
We do not sell any personally identifiable information collected through this website or submitted to the Commonwealth in conjunction with using functions on the website, 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 this website or the Mass.Gov portal, its dissemination is governed by the Public Records Law (M.G.L. c. 66, s. 10), the Fair Information Practices Act (M.G.L. c. 66A), the Act Relative to Security and Notification of Data Breaches (M.G.L. c. 93H), 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, unless protected by law.
There are pieces of information, such as credit card numbers, TIN, username, or password that are protected by the Fair Information Practices Act (M.G.L. c. 66A), and the Act Relative to Security Freezes and Notification of Data Breaches (M.G.L. c. 93H) which are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Law. For more information on types of data exempted from disclosure under the Public Records Law, please read the Secretary of the Commonwealth's web pages on the Public Records Law .
In addition, the information that you voluntarily submit will be disclosed only to AGO and other Commonwealth employees or officials, or those under contract with the Commonwealth, with an appropriate clearance for the 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 AGO website, the Mass.Gov portal, and fulfilling the Commonwealth's legal obligations.
The Fair Information Practices Act provides you certain rights to get information about yourself 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.
Because email sent to the Commonwealth is not encrypted, you should not send messages containing information that you consider highly sensitive to this website. We use standard security measures to ensure that information provided by you, including your personally identifiable information, is not lost, misused, altered, or unintentionally destroyed. We also use software to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage. Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, no attempts are made to identify individual users or their usage habits.
The e-complaints that are filed with the AGO through the online systems are are protected during transmission by using Secure Sockets (SSL) software, which encrypts the information you input.
For questions about your privacy while using the website of the AGO , please contact the AGO Webteam at email@example.com.
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 on 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. Click to view our Web Communication Policies.