National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

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NCCAM Privacy Policy (Part I)

How NCCAM Collects and Uses Information

Protecting your privacy is very important to us. We do not collect any personally identifiable information about you during your visit to the NCCAM Web site unless you choose to provide it to us. We do, however, collect some data about your visit to our Web site to help us better understand how the public uses the site and how to make it more helpful. We collect information from visitors who read, browse, and/or download information from our Web site. NCCAM never collects information for commercial marketing or any purpose unrelated to the NCCAM mission and goals.

When Web site visitors send messages containing personal information through e-mail or through the form located in Contact Us, NCCAM Information Clearinghouse staff respond to the messages. Only designated staff members, who require access to the messages to respond, may view or answer them.

NCCAM's Online Continuing Education Series, developed in collaboration with Ciné-Med, collects information during registration for the purpose of providing continuing education credit. None of the data collected will be provided to third parties, unless required by law. Cookies are used within the continuing education program to keep track of your current session. They are erased when you logout or close your browser.

The NCCAM Research Blog is an interactive tool which allows visitors to submit comments. To voluntarily post a comment, we ask you to provide your name (or nickname) and e-mail address. The name is posted online; the e-mail address is never posted online. The e-mail address will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your comment.

Types of Information Collected

When you browse through any Web site, certain information about your visit can be collected. We automatically collect and temporarily store the following type of information about your visit:

  • Domain from which you access the Internet
  • IP address (a number that is automatically assigned to a computer that connects to the Web)
  • Operating system and information about the browser used when visiting the site
  • Date and time of your visit
  • Pages you visited
  • Address of the Web site that connected you to our Web site (such as google.com or bing.com)

We use this information to help understand our visitors' needs and to make our site more useful to them.

How NCCAM Collects Information

The NCCAM Web site uses statistical measurement software to collect the information listed above. Information collection is automatic and continuous. No personally identifiable information is collected without your consent. The NCCAM Web Team conducts analyses and reports on the aggregated data. The reports are only available to members of the NCCAM Communications and Web Teams, and other designated staff who require this information to perform their duties.

NCCAM occasionally uses online surveys to collect opinions and feedback from a random sample of visitors. At this time, no online surveys are being conducted.

NCCAM may also collect, save, and post transcripts from its monthly Twitter Chats. The archived transcript will include messages posted by chat participants and participants’ Twitter account username and profile image. You may request to have this information removed from the transcript by e-mailing: NCCAMTwitter@mail.nih.gov. Any personally identifying information collected during these conversations will not be used or sold by NCCAM in any way, except for sharing information.

NCCAM retains the data as long as needed to support the mission of the NCCAM Web site.

How NCCAM Uses Cookies

The Office of Management and Budget Memo M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies (105KB PDF) allows Federal agencies to use session and persistent cookies.

When you visit any Web site, its server may generate a piece of text known as a “cookie” to place on your computer. The cookie allows the server to “remember” specific information about your visit while you are connected.

The cookie makes it easier for you to use the dynamic features of Web pages. Cookies from NCCAM Web pages only collect information about your browser's visit to the site; they do not collect personal information about you.

There are two types of cookies, single session—also called session—(temporary) and multi-session (persistent). Session cookies last only as long as your Web browser is open. Once you close your browser, the cookie disappears. Persistent cookies are stored on your computer for longer periods.

Session Cookies: We use session cookies for technical purposes such as to enable better navigation through our site. These cookies let our server know that you are continuing a visit to our site. The OMB Memo 10-22 Guidance defines our use of session cookies as “Usage Tier 1—Single Session.” The policy says, “This tier encompasses any use of single session web measurement and customization technologies.”

Persistent Cookies: The NCCAM Web site uses persistent cookies to enable us to differentiate between new and returning visitors. Persistent cookies remain on your computer between visits to the NCCAM Web site until they expire.

NCCAM is running the American Customer Satisfaction Survey (ACSI) on the website, which uses “persistent” cookies to block repeated invitations to take the ACSI survey.  We also use persistent cookies to enable NCCAM's Google Analytics programs to measure how new and returning visitors use the NCCAM website over time.

The OMB Memo 10-22 Guidance defines our use of persistent cookies as “Usage Tier 2—Multi-session without Personally Identifiable Information (PII).” The policy says, “This tier encompasses any use of multi-session Web measurement and customization technologies when no PII is collected.”

How To Opt Out or Disable Cookies

If you do not wish to have cookies placed on your computer, you can disable them using your Web browser. If you opt out of cookies, you will still have access to all information and resources on the NCCAM Web site. Instructions for disabling or opting out of cookies in the most popular browsers are located at www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml.

Please note that by following the instructions to opt out of cookies, you will disable cookies from all Web sites, not just those from nccam.nih.gov.

How Personal Information Is Protected

You do not have to provide personal information to visit the NCCAM Web site. However, if you choose to receive e-newsletters or announcements, we collect your e-mail address to complete the subscription process.

If you would like to receive continuing education credit for completing modules in the Online Continuing Education System, you will need to provide personal information for that purpose. This information is stored in a secure database. OMB Memo 10-22 Guidance defines our use of this database as “Usage Tier 3—Multi-Session with Personally Identifiable Information (PII).” The policy says, “This tier encompasses any use of multi-session web measurement and customization technologies when PII is collected.” Providing this information is voluntary and not necessary for viewing the modules (you can create a User ID without providing personal information).

If you choose to provide us with personally identifiable information (that is, information that is personal in nature and which may be used to identify you) through an e-mail message, request for information, paper or electronic form, questionnaire, customer satisfaction survey, etc., we will maintain the information you provide only as long as needed to respond to your question or to fulfill the stated purpose of the communication. If we store your personal information in a record system designed to retrieve information about you by personal identifier (name, personal e-mail address, home mailing address, personal or mobile phone number, etc.) so that we may contact you, we will safeguard the information you provide to us in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (5 U.S.C. Section 552a).

If NCCAM operates a record system designed to retrieve information about you in order to accomplish its mission, a Privacy Act Notification Statement should be prominently and conspicuously displayed on the public-facing Web site or form that asks you to provide personally identifiable information. The notice must address the following criteria:

  • NIH legal authorization to collect information about you
  • Purpose of the information collection
  • Routine uses for disclosure of information outside of NIH
  • Whether the request made of you is voluntary or mandatory under law
  • Effects of non-disclosure if you choose to not provide the requested information

Related Link: How NCCAM Uses Third-Party Web Sites and Applications

* Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader.