Mass.gov® Privacy Policy

 

Effective: 6/1/2022

Welcome to the Mass.gov website (“Mass.gov”). Your privacy is one of our top priorities. This policy applies only to the use of Mass.gov. As you navigate Mass.gov, you will see links that, when clicked, will take you to other Commonwealth websites operated by state agencies or to other websites external to Massachusetts state government. These other websites may have individual privacy policies tailored to the interactions available through each site. Because this privacy policy only applies to Mass.gov, you should examine the privacy policy of any website, including other Commonwealth websites, that you access using Mass.gov.

Visitors to Mass.gov should also review the Mass.gov Terms of Use.

A quick summary of major points

  • Whenever you visit Mass.gov, be aware that some information is automatically collected. None of the information automatically collected is personally identifiable, which means this information would not identify you as an individual.
  • Some Mass.gov services, such as the creation of a user account or the submission of a form, will require you to provide additional, and potentially personally identifiable, information.
  • Mass.gov is subject to the Massachusetts Public Records Law. If you submit any information to us, that information may become public record and subject to disclosure upon request.

A privacy partnership

Your privacy with respect to the use of Mass.gov results from a partnership between the Commonwealth and you, the user. At Mass.gov, we attempt to protect your privacy in accordance with best practices and the EOTSS Enterprise Information Security Policies and Standards. However, because some of the information that we receive through Mass.gov is subject to the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M.G.L. c. 66) we cannot ensure absolute privacy. Information that you provide to us through Mass.gov 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 Mass.gov, 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 Mass.gov. 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 Mass.gov.

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

Dissemination of your personally identifiable information

We do not sell any personally identifiable information collected through Mass.gov or submitted to the Commonwealth in conjunction with using functions on Mass.gov, 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 Mass.gov, its dissemination is governed by the Public Records Law, 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 not considered public for the purposes of a public records request. For more information on types of data exempted from disclosure under the Public Records Law, please refer to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law.

Information voluntarily provided by you

Mass.gov collects voluntary information from you through surveys, online forms, any emails sent to Mass.gov, and any suggestions, requests, or comments posted on pages hosted by Mass.gov (such as blogs or wikis). All such information, including comments and emails sent by you to Mass.gov, may contain personally identifiable information.

While Mass.gov is intended as a medium for disseminating information from state agencies, if you need to contact a state agency that is part of Mass.gov, you should use the contact information for that state agency posted on its Mass.gov website.

Information automatically collected and stored by Mass.gov

Some information is automatically collected when you visit Mass.gov.

Mass.gov collects and stores your Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, 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 Mass.gov transmitted to you over the web. We use your IP address to assess the frequency of visits to Mass.gov 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. The one exception is that when you fill out information in a form on Mass.gov, we receive your IP address along with this submission. We do not use this form-related IP address information unless it may be relevant and material to a criminal investigation.

Cookies and usage data

Cookies are simple text files stored on your web browser to provide a means of distinguishing among users of this website. The use of cookies is a standard practice among Internet websites. 

Mass.gov uses cookies and tools for data collection and analytics to learn more about how visitors to Mass.gov find and interact with the pages they visit.  We may use this information to improve our service offerings and better tailor individual user experience. These tools may also collect data such as browser information, operating system, and page views through the implementation of “persistent cookies” or “session cookies.”

Mass.gov employs the use of "persistent cookies." The purpose of these persistent cookies is to collect and aggregate data regarding Mass.gov’s visitor activity in order for the Mass.gov Office to continuously evaluate and improve its website services, including on Mass.gov or affiliated websites (collectively, the “Offerings”). 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 Mass.gov.

Persistent cookies will allow the website to recognize you when you visit again and tailor the information presented to you based on your needs and interests. Any persistent cookies in use on Mass.gov cannot be used by anyone other than Mass.gov or the software publisher of the tool in accordance with that software publisher’s terms of use. If you would like more information about the persistent cookies currently in use on Mass.gov, you may email digitalservices@mass.gov.

We also use "session cookies" to enhance or customize your visit to this website. Session cookies can be created automatically on the device you use to access this state agency website. These session cookies do not contain personal information and do not compromise your privacy or security. We may use the cookie feature to store a randomly generated identifying tag on the device you use to access this website. A session cookie is erased during operation of your browser or when your browser is closed.

The software and hardware you use to access Mass.gov allows you to refuse new cookies or delete existing cookies. Refusing or deleting these cookies may limit your ability to take advantage of some features of this website. Some of the tools permit you to opt-out of the tool by allowing that tool to plant a persistent cookie on your web browser indicating that you have opted out. If you disable cookies on your browser or use a different browser, different computer, different user account, etc., you will need to opt-out again.

Except as set forth in this Privacy Policy (e.g., possibly in response to a public records request), we do not combine the information collected through the use of any tool with personally identifiable information.

Online forms on Mass.gov

Third-party services, such as Formstack, may provide online forms on Mass.gov. When you use such a service, your form submission is either sent directly to a Mass.gov email account (e.g., public records request forms) or is securely made to the service provider (e.g., Formstack) and stored there. Form submissions submitted to the service provider are then transmitted to state government staff. State government staff may then delete form submissions from the service provider’s environment when there is no longer any administrative need to retain them there. Information submitted to the form service providers will be used only for internal purposes and will not be distributed or sold to other third parties unless required by law or pursuant to a valid government request.

Formstack’s privacy policy can be found at www.formstack.com/privacy.

In addition, the information that you voluntarily submit will be disclosed only to 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: providing and improving service offerings, 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 Mass.gov, and fulfilling the Commonwealth's legal obligations.

We will collect and aggregate the information you provide through surveys and through Mass.gov’s collection of non-personally identifying analytics data to improve Mass.gov and make the site more responsive to customer needs. Where appropriate, we may provide the information you submitted voluntarily through a form or email 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 with 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 links to these laws.

Security

Because information sent to the Commonwealth may not be encrypted, you should not send messages containing information that you consider highly sensitive to Mass.gov. 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, we make no attempts to identify individual users or their usage habits.

Policy changes

We reserve the right to change the terms of this policy at any time. We encourage you to review this page periodically to stay informed of any updates. The date that this policy was last modified can be found at the top of this page. Any modifications are effective immediately.

Contact Information

For questions about your privacy while using Mass.gov, please contact digitalservices@mass.gov.

Disclaimer

The information provided in this privacy policy should not be construed as giving business, legal, or other advice, or warranting as fail proof, the security of information provided through this website.

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