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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Privacy and Security Notice
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About Privacy and Security

Thank you for visiting the Environmental Protection Agency Web site, a service of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This statement informs you how we will handle information we learn about you from your visit to our site. Please be assured that the privacy of our visitors is of utmost importance to us. We collect no personally identifiable information about you when you visit our site unless you choose to provide that information to us.

We want to inform you that, for each HTTP request (which is what your Web browser generates when you request a page or part of a page from a Web site) received, we collect and store only the following information, in what is called a log file:

  • the date and time
  • the originating Internet Provider address (IPA) (this address can refer to a specific computer; more frequently, commercial Internet providers use a temporary IPA which does not link to a specific computer)
  • the type of browser and operating system used (if provided by the browser)
  • the URL of the referring page (if provided by the browser)
  • the object requested
  • completion status of the request
  • pages visited

We use the information that we automatically collect to measure the number of visitors to the different areas of our sites, and to help us make our pages more useful to visitors. This includes analyzing these logs periodically to determine the traffic through our servers, the number of pages served, and the level of demand for pages and topics of interest.

How Long is the Information Retained: The logs for each day, with no personal information, are maintained indefinitely.

Cookies: EPA does not use "persistent cookies" or any other persistent tracking methods to collect personally identifiable information about visitors to our Web pages. However, some EPA pages have “session cookies,” to facilitate use of that particular page. These disappear when the Web user terminates a Web session and closes the browser.

Cookies are small files that Web servers place on a user's hard drive. They can serve several functions, depending upon how they are designed:

  • they allow the Web site to identify you as a previous visitor each time you access a site;
  • they track what information you view at a site (important to commercial sites trying to determine your buying preferences);
  • in the more advanced cases they track your movements through many Web sites but not the whole Web;
  • businesses use them for customer convenience to allow them to produce a list of items to buy and pay for them all at one time and to garner information about what individuals are buying at their sites;
  • advertisers use them to determine the effectiveness of their marketing and offer insights into consumer preferences and tastes by collecting data from many Web sites; and
  • they can be used to help a Web site tailor screens for each customer's preference.

To protect your privacy, be sure to close your browser completely after you have finished conducting business with a Web site that does use cookies. If you are concerned about the potential use of the information gathered from your computer by cookies, you can set your browser to prompt you before it accepts a cookie. Most Internet browsers have settings that let you identify and/or reject cookies.

Other Information Collection: In addition to the information automatically collected by the server, EPA offices may collect other information from online visitors. Before collecting personally identifiable information through our Web pages, we will prominently disclose:

  • why EPA is collecting the information;
  • what information is to be collected;
  • the intended use of the information;
  • how it will be protected/secured;
  • if it will be shared within or outside EPA, including on publicly available Web sites;
  • if shared, with whom;
  • the opportunity to consent to, or reject, the collection and/or sharing, and
  • when it will be destroyed.

How the Information is Used: We may store non-personally identifiable information we collect (such as search engine queries and anonymous survey responses) indefinitely to help us better understand and meet the needs of our visitors. We may share non-personally identifiable information with others, including the public, in aggregated form (for instance, in a list of our most popular search engine queries), in partial or edited form (such as in a report summarizing responses to a questionnaire), or verbatim (for example, in a complete listing of survey responses).

Your Rights under the Privacy Act: The Privacy Act of 1974 protects the personal information the federal government keeps on you in “systems of records (SOR)” (information an agency controls that can be retrieved by name or some other personal identifier). The Privacy Act regulates how the government can disclose, share, provide access to, and maintain the personal information that it collects. Not all information collected online is covered by the Privacy Act.

The Act’s major provisions require agencies to:

  • publish a Privacy Act Notice in the Federal Register explaining the existence, character and uses of a new or revised SOR;
  • keep information about you accurate, relevant, timely, and complete to assure fairness in dealing with you; and
  • allow you to, upon request, access and review your information held in a SOR and request amendment of the information if you disagree with it.

EPA Web pages do not collect any personal information that is contained in a Privacy Act System of Records as defined by the Privacy Act. Information concerning the Privacy Act can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/privacy/index.htm.

Interaction with Children: Some EPA Web pages provide content to children. It is EPA policy, in compliance with the requirements of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), to collect no information online about or from children age 13 and under except when it is needed to identify a submission or to answer a question. Any such instances on Web pages for children will be clearly marked, and a separate privacy notice will be posted on that Web page. Under no circumstances will any of the information be used for another purpose or shared with third parties, nor will personally identifying information be published on the EPA Web site.

How e-mail is Handled: By sending us an electronic mail message (for example, an e-mail message containing an official Freedom of Information Act request), you may be sending us personally-identifying information, such as name and address. In these cases, we may retain the information as long as necessary to respond to your request or otherwise resolve the subject matter of your e-mail. Please be aware that email is not necessarily secure from 3rd party interception or misdirection. For your own protection you may wish to communicate sensitive information using a method other than email.

Personal Information via Forms: Some of our pages provide forms allowing visitors to submit search engine queries, questionnaires, feedback, or other information. Some of these forms may request personally identifiable information (e.g., name, address, e-mail address) for specific purposes, such as when the submitter is requesting a personal response, registering for a conference, or subscribing to a mailing list. All information submitted by visitors is voluntary.

Site Security: For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, EPA does employ software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage to the information on our Web pages. Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this service (“hacking”) are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act. Except for these authorized law enforcement investigations, no other attempts are made to identify individual users or their usage habits.

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Content updated July 2004


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