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Privacy Policy

We are committed to the privacy of our visitors. We collect no personal information about you when you visit our website unless you choose to provide that information to us. 

Here is how we handle information about your visit: If you do nothing during your visit but browse through the website, read pages or download information, we will gather and store certain information about your visit automatically for use in site management and security purposes. We use Google Analytics measurement software to collect and analyze this information because it helps us to better design our websites to suit your needs. We may also automatically collect information about the web content you view in the event of a known security or virus threat. This information does not identify you personally. 

We automatically collect and store information such as the following concerning your visit: 

  • The Internet domain (for example, “xcompany.com” if you use a private Internet access account, or “yourschool.edu” if you connect from a university’s domain);
  • Your IP address (an IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to your computer whenever you are surfing the Web) from which you access our website.
  • The type of browser and operating system used to access our site;
  • The date and time you access our site;
  • The pages you visit; 
  • Your username, if it was used to log in to the website; and
  • If you linked to our website from another website, the address of that website.

We use this information to help us make our site more useful to visitors — to learn about the number of visitors to our site and the types of technology our visitors use. 

Information protection

We take precautions to maintain the security, confidentiality, and integrity of the information we collect as directed by the Privacy Act of 1974, the E-Government Act of 2002, and the Federal Records Act. Such measures include access controls designed to limit access to the information to those that need it. We also employ various security technologies to protect the information stored on our systems, and we routinely test our security measures to ensure that they remain operational and effective.

We hold our contractors and other third-party providers to the same high standards that we use to ensure the security, confidentiality, and integrity of personal information they may have access to in the course of their work completed on behalf of the Department.

Information that you voluntarily provide

We do not collect personally-identifiable information unless you choose to provide it to us. If you provide us with personally identifiable information (e.g., by sending an e-mail or by filling out a form and submitting it through our website), we use that information only to respond to your message and to help us provide you with the information and services that you request. Submitting voluntary information constitutes your consent to the use of the information for the stated purpose. If you choose to not provide certain information we may not be able to complete the requested service. When we do request information from you, we will explain why we need it and how we will use it in a separate “Privacy Notice.” We do not collect or use information for commercial marketing.

If you send us an email

Many of our programs and websites allow you to send us an email. We will use the information you provide to respond to your inquiry. We will only send you general information via email. You should be aware that email may not necessarily be secure against interception. Therefore, we suggest that you do not send sensitive personal data (such as your Social Security number) to us via email. If your intended email communication is very sensitive, or includes information such as your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, you should instead send it by U.S. mail. Another alternative may be submission of data through a secure web page, if available.

Electronic mail messages may be considered Federal records if they meet the definition of records in the Federal Records Act (44 U.S.C. 3101 et seq.). This means that emails you send us will be preserved and maintained for varying periods of time if those emails meet the definition of Federal records. Electronic messages that are not records are deleted when no longer needed.

How information is used

The information we collect is used for a variety of purposes. We make every effort to disclose clearly how information is used at the point where it is collected, so that our users can determine for themselves whether they wish to provide the information.

Sharing of your information

We may share the information you give us with another government agency if your inquiry relates to that agency. In other limited circumstances, such as responses to requests from Congress and private individuals, we may be required by law to disclose information you submit. Before you submit personally identifiable information, such as on an online form, you will be advised as to the purpose and how the information will be used.

You can learn more about how we share information on our Privacy Act Systems of Records Notices page. 

Retaining information

We destroy the information we collect when the purpose for which it was provided has been fulfilled — unless we are required to keep it longer by statute or official policy. Electronically submitted information is maintained and destroyed according to the principles of the Federal Records Act and the regulations and records schedules approved by the National Archives and Records Administration. In some cases information submitted to us may become an agency record and, therefore, might be subject to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Data Analytics

Our teams use data analytics, the science of analyzing raw data, to improve our websites based on how real people use them.  

The primary data analytics program that we utilize is the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), a unified Google Analytics account created for the federal government. This program aims to improve the user’s experience and help government agencies understand how people find, access, and use government services online. Neither us nor Google have access to the specifics of your particular site visits.  Our employees can only see the aggregate data from all users for a particular time period. We may share the aggregate data with our partners and contractors to help improve visitor experiences; however, none of the federal government data tracked as part of the Digital Analytics Program is shared with Google’s corporate advertising partners. The program does not have any processes in place to collect personal information and agencies cannot pass any personal information into the program’s account.  In addition, the program’s code anonymizes IP addresses at the earliest available point, and the original IP address is not stored at any point. 

 On November 8, 2016, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memorandum on Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites and Digital Services, which requires executive branch federal agencies to implement the Digital Analytics Program JavaScript code on all public facing federal websites.  Visitors to our websites can expect to have aggregate information collected upon their website visits and utilized by us to enhance their customer experience. 

For more detailed information on the Digital Analytics Program, please contact dap@support.digitalgov.gov.

Third-Party Websites and Applications

The Department maintains official pages or accounts on several third-party websites, including social media, in order to better engage with the American public and foreign constituencies to promote awareness of our activities, events, news, and information.

Your activity on these third-party sites is governed by the security and privacy policies of the third-party sites. We do not use third-party sites to solicit and collect personal information. Users of third-party sites are often sharing information with the general public, user community and/or the third-party operating the third-party site. You should review the privacy policies of third-party sites before using them to ensure that you understand how your information may be used. You should also adjust privacy settings on your account on any third-party site to match your preferences. 

We use the ForeSee Results’ American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) online survey on an ongoing basis to obtain feedback and data on visitors’ satisfaction with the state.gov website. This survey is optional and does not collect personal information. We may use other limited-time surveys for specific purposes, which are explained at the time they are posted.

GovDelivery 

The Department’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs (GPA) uses the GovDelivery service to deliver email bulletin messages to self-subscribed users.  GPA’s Office of Global Web Platforms serves as the executive agent for the Department’s GovDelivery Service and controls who at the Department has access to send email bulletins, create or delete topics.

GovDelivery is a web-based e-mail subscription management system that allows a member of the public (user) to subscribe to news and information on www.state.gov. The GovDelivery user selects specific topics that interest them. Whenever information on that topic is made available by the Department, the user that has subscribed to that topic receives an email.  The user’s subscription profile consists of their email address and the topics they wish to receive email updates for.  The user may customize and manage their subscription profile in order to receive exactly the types of information they desire, and they may cancel their subscriptions at any time.

Users engaging the Department’s GovDelivery system expect privacy protections while interacting with the Department. We will only use the email addresses provided by the users to send email messages related to the topics selected by the user in the GovDelivery system. We will not use the GovDelivery service to: 1) send email messages not related to the topics selected by the user; 2) actively seek personally identifiable information; and 3) search for or by personally identifiable information without a waiver from our Privacy Office.  To the extent a user posts or sends personally identifiable information to the Department’s GovDelivery system, we will use the minimum amount necessary to accomplish a purpose authorized by statute, executive order, or regulation.

Neither the Department nor GovDelivery may share a user’s subscription profile (including email address) without a waiver from the Privacy Office.

Cookies

“Cookies” are small bits of text that are either used for the duration of a session (session cookies) or saved on a user’s hard drive in order to identify that user or information about that user the next time she/he logs onto a website (persistent cookies). If you do not wish to have session or persistent cookies stored on your machine, you can turn cookies off in your browser. You will still have access to all information and resources at our websites, but turning off cookies may affect the functioning of some websites. Be aware that disabling cookies in your browser will affect cookie usage at all other websites you visit as well.

Interaction with Children Online

This website may offer educational content to children under 13 years old. If a Department website intends to collect information about children under 13 years old, we will provide information and instructions consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The web page will specify exactly what the information will be used for, who will see it, and how long it will be kept.

Visiting Other Websites

This site may have links to the websites of other federal agencies, international agencies, private organizations, and some commercial entities. Once you go to a site other than ours, you are subject to the privacy and security policies of the new site. It is always a good idea to read the privacy policy of any website that you visit. We do not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information contained in a linked site. We also do not endorse the organizations or individuals maintaining sites that we link to, any views they express or any products/services they offer.

Privacy Policy Contact Information

We welcome feedback if you have any questions regarding our privacy policy or the use of your information. Our privacy compliance materials, Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) and Systems of Records Notices (SORN), are available at www.state.gov/privacy. For additional information about our Privacy Policy, please contact the Privacy Office at privacy@state.gov or mail us at:

Office of Global Information Services
Privacy Office – A/GIS/PRV
State Annex 9
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20006

Updated June 2020