Welcome to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) website. Your privacy is one of our top priorities. The following policy applies only to the use of the OCA website. Other websites operated by other state agencies have different policies. 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 site.

A Privacy Partnership

Your privacy with respect to the use of this 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 Chapter 66, Section 10, we cannot ensure absolute privacy. Information that you provide to us through this site may be made available to members of the public under that law. 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 choice about your use of this site. You can maximize the benefits of your privacy partnership with the Commonwealth by making informed choices about whether to share personally identifiable information with us through this site.

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, e-mail address, Social Security number, birth date, bank account information, credit card information, or any combination of information that could be used to identify you.

Information Voluntarily Provided by You

This site collects voluntary information from you only through the e-mails that you send through this site. E-mails sent by you to this site will contain personally identifiable information.

Information Automatically Collected and Stored by this Site

This site does not collect "cookies", but does collect and store indefinitely your Internet Protocol ("IP") address, which does not identify you as an individual, as well as information about the date and time of your visit, whether a file requested from your website exists, and how many "bytes" of information were transmitted to your website 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.

Dissemination of Your Personally Identifiable Information

We do not sell any personally identifiable information collected through this website. However, once you voluntarily submit personally identifiable information to us through an e-mail, its dissemination is governed by the Public Records Law, the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 66A (Fair Information Practices Act), Executive Order 412. 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 other Federal and State laws and regulations which govern the dissemination of personal information related to people seeking or receiving services through the OCA and its agencies. Please direct any inquiries regarding these laws and regulations to the OCA at telephone 617-979-8360.

In addition, the information that you voluntarily submit will be disclosed to Commonwealth employees or officials with a "need to know" for purposes of fulfilling their job responsibilities. They will only use the information to answer your questions, respond to any requests for assistance, and fulfill the Commonwealth's legal obligations. Where appropriate, we may provide the information submitted by you to the person or company that is the subject of your inquiry, or to a government agency responsible for the matters referred to in your communication.

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 this site does not encrypt incoming e-mail, you should not send information that you consider highly sensitive through this website. We use standard security measures to ensure that your personally identifiable information is not lost, misused, altered, or unintentionally destroyed. We also use software programs 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.

Special Protections against Misuse of Personally Identifiable Information within Commonwealth Offices

In 1999, then-Acting Governor Swift issued Executive Order 412 txt format of EO 412-1999, MA Reg. #873
, which enhanced the privacy protection given to any information about you as a named individual held by the Executive Department of state government. Executive Order 412 txt format of EO 412-1999, MA Reg. #873
limits the collection and dissemination of personally identifiable information within the Executive Department. This site complies with Executive Order 412 txt format of EO 412-1999, MA Reg. #873
, so all of the personally identifiable information that you submit to this site is given the privacy protections set forth in Executive Order 412 txt format of EO 412-1999, MA Reg. #873
.

Policy Changes

We will post 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. For questions about your privacy while using this website, please contact the OCA at (617) 979-8360.

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 might 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.