Welcome to the website of the Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley. 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 Attorney General's Office (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 feed, and Flickr page are actually 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 reference 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
Security
Policy Changes
Contact Information
Definitions

Limited Scope of this Policy

The privacy policy which follows applies only to the use of the AGO website. As you navigate this website, you will see links that, when clicked, will take you to other websites operated by other state agencies. These websites have individual privacy policies tailored to the interactions available through that site. You may also see links that will take you to websites external to Massachusetts state government. We suggest that you read the privacy policies for each Commonwealth website that you visit and any external site that you visit through any link appearing at this site.

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Attorney Client Relationship

Nothing on this website shall be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship or privileged communication between the Attorney General's Office, any of its employees, and any user of the site. Under the provisions of M.G.L. c.12, § 3, 6, 9, the Attorney General's Office may only give legal advice or opinions to state officers and agencies on matters relating to their official duties.

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Privacy and the Public Records Law

Your privacy with respect to the use of the AGO website results from a partnership between the Commonwealth and you, the user. At this website, we attempt to protect your privacy to the maximum extent possible, subject to the Public Records Law, M.G.L. c. 66 § 10 .

The AGO is a public agency and records received by a public agency are presumed to be public records by state 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.

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Personally Identifiable Information

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.

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Information Voluntarily Provided by You

This site may collect information that you provide voluntarily through electronically filed complaint forms and emails.

Electronically-filed 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. These complaints may be Public Records and may be subject to disclosure under the Public Records Law, M.G.L. c. 66, s. 10.

For information on how to file an e-complaint, please visit this webpage.

Email
This site collects information from you through any email messages you choose to send to the Attorney General's Office. 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.

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Information Automatically Collected and Stored by this Site

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 does collect and store 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.

In addition, we use a tool called Google Analytics™ to collect information about use of this site. Google Analytics collects information such as how often users visit this site, what pages they visit when they do so, and what other sites they used prior to coming to this site. We use the information we get from Google Analytics only to improve this site. Google Analytics collects only the IP address assigned to you on the date you visit this site, rather than your name or other identifying information. We do not combine the information collected through the use of Google Analytics with personally identifiable information. Although Google Analytics plants a persistent cookie on your web browser to identify you as a unique user the next time you visit this site, the cookie cannot be used by anyone but Google. Google's ability to use and share information collected by Google Analytics about your visits to this site is restricted by the Google Analytics Terms of Use and the Google Privacy Policy. The Google Analytics Terms of Use are available online at http://www.google.com/analytics/tos.html. The Google Privacy Policy is available online at http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html. You can prevent Google Analytics from recognizing you on return visits to this site by disabling cookies on your browser.

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Dissemination of Your Personally Identifiable Information

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), 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.

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 (2007) (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 Attorney General's Office 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 Attorney General's website, the Mass.Gov portal, and fulfilling the Commonwealth's legal obligations.

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Your Access and Opportunity to Correct

The Public Records Law and the Fair Information Practices Act provide 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.

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Security

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.

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Policy Changes

We will post substantive changes to this policy at least 30 days before they take effect. Any information we collect under the current privacy policy will remain subject to the terms of this policy. After any changes take effect, all new information we collect, if any, will be subject to the new policy.

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Contact Information

For questions about your privacy while using the website of the Attorney General's Office, please contact Nora Mann, Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Community Information & Education Division, at nora.mann@state.ma.us.

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Definitions

Cookies are files that a website can place on your computer. A cookie file contains unique information that a website can use to track such things as your password, lists of Web pages you have visited, and the date when you last looked at a specific Web page, or to identify your session at a particular website. A cookie file allows the website to recognize you as you click through pages on the site and when you later revisit the site. A website can use cookies to "remember" your preferences, and to record your browsing behavior on the Web. Although you can prevent websites from placing cookies on your computer by using your browser's preference menu, disabling cookies may affect your ability to view or interact with some websites.

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.

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