Effective:  June 27, 2012

Welcome to the Office of the State Auditor’s (OSA) website. Your personal privacy is one of our top priorities. The purpose of this policy is to provide you, the user, with notice of what information we collect on this website, what we do with the information, to whom it may be disseminated, and how you can access it.  The following policy applies only to the use of the Mass.Gov and OSA website (mass.gov/auditor).  Based on this information, you can make a decision about your use of this website.  

As you navigate the OSA website, you will see links that, when clicked, will take you to other websites operated by state agencies. These websites have individual privacy policies tailored to the interactions available through each site. You may also see links that will take you to websites external to Massachusetts state government. In particular, please note that although some of the social media pages used by the OSA may appear to be part of this website or a web page under this website’s control, some of these sites 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 OSA’s Social Media Policy to review more detailed information on how OSA’s website uses specific social media sites and for links to the relevant terms of service and privacy policies for those sites. We strongly suggest that you read the privacy policies for each Commonwealth website that you visit, and any external site that you visit through a link appearing at this website.

A Privacy Partnership

Your privacy with respect to the use of the OSA 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. However, because some of the information that we receive through this website is subject to the Public Records Law, Massachusetts General Laws c.66, § 10, we cannot ensure absolute privacy. Therefore, information that you send to us through this site may be subject to disclosure to members of the public under the Public Records Law.

You can maximize the benefits of your privacy partnership with the Commonwealth by making informed decisions about whether to share personally identifiable information with us through this website.

Personally Identifiable Information

We use the term "personally identifiable information" to mean any information that could reasonably be used to identify you, including your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, Social Security number, birth date, drivers license number or state-issued identification card, bank account information, credit card information, or any combination of information that could be used to identify you.

Information Voluntarily Provided by You

This website collects voluntary information from you through surveys, e-mails, and any comments posted on social media pages hosted by this website (such as blogs or wikis hosted by the OSA).  All such information, including comments and e-mails sent by you to this site will contain personally identifiable information.

Information Automatically Collected and Stored by this Site

This website employs the use of "Persistent Cookies." The purpose of these Persistent Cookies is to collect and aggregate data regarding the site's visitor activity in order for the OSA to continuously evaluate and improve its website services. 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. We use your IP address 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.

Usage Data

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 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.

This site also uses a survey tool called ForeSee™ provided by ForeSee Results. ForeSee collects voluntary information from you through surveys posted at this website. 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. We use the information we get from ForeSee only to improve this site ForeSee also collects data such as browser information, operating system, and page views through the implementation of session cookies. We do not combine the information collected through the use of ForeSee with any other personally identifiable information not voluntarily provided by you through your survey responses. Although ForeSee 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 ForeSee Results. ForeSee Results' ability to use and share information collected by ForeSee about your visits to this site is restricted by the ForeSee Results' Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The ForeSee Results' Terms of Use and Privacy Policy are available online at http://www.foreseeresults.com.  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 site. 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 this website. You may prevent ForeSee from using persistent cookies by disabling cookies on your browser. Disabling cookies will in turn prevent ForeSee from recognizing you on return visits and thus ForeSee may present you with the survey questionnaire upon a return visit since it will not have any means to recognize that you've opted out on a previous visit.

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, its dissemination is governed by the Public Records Law, the Fair Information Practices Act (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 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. For more information on types of data exempted from disclosure under the Public Records Law, please read the Secretary of the Commonwealth's Public Records Law.

Information that you submit voluntarily through third party social media sites where such sites are associated with the OSA and when such information is publically available, including your name, city, town and the substance of anything that you post may be disseminated further by being posted online at this website or be publicly discussed by a member of this Office. In addition to social media postings, any e-mails or other communication you send us may be provided to a member of the public in response to a public records request.

In addition, the information that you voluntarily submit through e-mails will be disclosed only to Office of the State Auditor and other Commonwealth employees or officials, or those under contract with the Commonwealth, with a "need to know" for 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 OSA’s website, the Mass.Gov website, and fulfilling the Commonwealth's legal obligations.

Your Access and Opportunity to Correct

The Public Records Law and the Fair Information Practices Act provide you certain rights to get information about you 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.

Security

Because information sent to the Commonwealth is not encrypted, you should not send messages containing information that you consider highly sensitive to this website. Standard security measures are used to ensure that information provided by you, including your personally identifiable information, is not lost, misused, altered, or unintentionally destroyed. Software to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts is used 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.

Policy Changes

The OSA will post changes to this Privacy Policy Statement at least thirty (30) days before any such changes take effect. Any information the OSA collects under the current policy will remain subject to the terms of this policy. After any such changes take effect, all new information collected, if any, will be subjected to the terms of the new policy.

Contact Information

You may contact this office with inquiries regarding your privacy while using this website. All inquiries should be directed to:

Office of the State Auditor
Communications and Outreach Department
Room 230
State House
Boston, MA 02133
617.727.2075
auditor@sao.state.ma.us

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 or 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.

"Weblog" or "Blog". A weblog or blog is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Government blogs typically provide commentary and news on topics related to the government agency hosting the blog. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

"Wiki". A wiki is a website that uses collaboration software to enable the creation of a number of interlinked web pages. Many authors can contribute to the website and upload content to the site. Government wikis typically provide a venue for commentary and discussion regarding topics related to the government agency hosting the wiki. A typical wiki combines text, images, and links to other web pages outside the wiki also related to the topic, and enables readers to leave comments in an interactive format.

Office of the State Auditor Disclaimer Notice

While the OSA strives to make the information on this web site as timely and accurate as possible, OSA makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of this website and expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this site. No warranty of any kind, implied, express or statutory, including but not limited to the warranties of non-infringement of third party rights, title, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and freedom from computer virus, is given with respect to this website or is links to other Internet resources.

The information appearing on this web site is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice to any individual or entity.

In any situation where the official printed publications of the OSA or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts differ from the text contained in this site (or its links to other Commonwealth website sources), the official printed publications take precedence.

Reference in the OSA website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the OSA.