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Office of Scientific and Technical Information

User Privacy

Information Collected: Web Traffic

For each page that is visited on OSTI.gov, the following technical information is automatically captured in what is called a web server log file:

  • Date and time of access
  • URL address of the webpage visited
  • Internet domain and IP address from which our website was accessed
  • Type of browser and operating system used to access our site (if provided by the browser)
  • URL address of the referring page (if provided by the browser)
  • Completion or success status of the request for a web page or other on-line item
  • File size of the webpage visited

This information does not contain personally identifiable information nor do we use this information to remember a user’s online interactions with our site.  This information is used to track server load, identify operational problems, to prevent fraud and to improve the effectiveness, security and integrity of the site.

Information Collected: Web Measurement and Tracking

This site employs the use of two separate types of cookies, session and persistent, to collect non-personal information related to how users traverse the website.  A cookie is a small file that a website transfers to your computer to allow the retrieval of specific information about your session while you are connected to a website.

  • Session cookies last only as long as your browser is open; once the browser is closed the cookie disappears.
  • Persistent cookies will remain on your hard drive until it reaches its expiration date or is deleted by you.  This type of cookie is stored on your computer so the website that placed it there can recognize and remember when you return visit and keep track of which pages on their website you visit.

The federal government has guidelines on the use of persistent cookies related to web measurement and tracking.  The goals of the guidelines are to enable the useful functioning of federal websites while protecting individual privacy.

This site does not automatically collect or store personal information in identifiable form about users.  Certain non-personally identifiable information is collected and stored automatically via session cookies, including:

  • the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the domain from which you access the Internet (i.e., 123.456.789.012) whether yours individually or provided as a proxy by your Internet Service Provider (ISP);
  • the domain from which you access the Internet;
  • the date and time you accessed the site;
  • the search queries, bibliographic citations viewed, and reports viewed; and
  • the Internet address of the Website from which you linked directly to our site.

This information is used to compile summary statistics to help us make the site more valuable to its users.  It is not shared with anyone beyond the professional support staff of this site, except when required by Law Enforcement investigation, and is used only as a source of anonymous statistical information.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) classifies the use of this type of technology as Tier 1 usage, since we are utilizing a single session web measurement technology that does not collect any personally identifiable information (PII).

This site may also use session cookies to provide salient session-related information and to enable product-specific functions not related to web measurement and tracking.  In no case will cookies be used to capture information that might compromise or threaten personal privacy.

Visitors to this site who have JavaScript enabled are by default anonymously tracked with persistent cookies using a web measurement technology known as Google Analytics.  Google Analytics collects the following types of information from users:

  • Type of user agent (web browser) used, software manufacture, and version number.
  • Type of operating system
  • Screen colors (color processing ability of the users screen)
  • JavaScript support
  • Flash version
  • Screen resolution
  • Network location and IP address
    • Can include country, city, state, region, county, or any other geographic data.
    • Hostname
    • Bandwidth (internet connection speed)
  • Time of visit
  • Pages visited
  • Time spent on each page of the website
  • Referring site statistics
    • The website (URL) the user came through in order to arrive at this website (for example: clicking on a hyperlink from www.osti.gov that took the user to this website)
    • Search engine query used (example: typing in a phrase into a search engine like Google, and clicking on a link from that search engine)

Google Analytics data is shared with Google.  For more information on Google's Privacy Policies, visit: https://www.google.com/privacy.html

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) classifies the use of this type of technology as Tier 2 usage, since we are utilizing a multi-session web measurement technology that does not collect any personally identifiable information (PII).

The information collected by Google Analytics is used to optimize our website; helping us determine top tasks, improve our user interface and diversify our content offerings to meet the needs of our customers. No personally identifiable information is collected, so the anonymity of the end user is protected.  The measurement data that is collected is retained for as long as is needed for proper analysis and optimization of the website and is accessible only to employees whose job function requires it.

Users who do not wish to participate in these web measurement and tracking activities may visit https://www.osti.gov/optout for step-by-step instructions of how to opt-out.  Google also provides a browser plug-in that will allow you to opt-out of all Google Analytics measurements, which you can find at https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout.  Please note that opting-out in no way affects your access to content within the site.

Users may choose to provide personal information containing comments or questions or to enable use of specialized site features.  This information is only used to provide service to the user or to respond to a user inquiry.