Privacy Policy for IdeaScale

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is committed to ensuring the privacy of our users.  This Web site is hosted by a private company named IdeaScale, but is administered by SSA.  This privacy policy governs the privacy practices of IdeaScale and SSA with respect to anyone visiting or participating on this site. SSA worked with IdeaScale to develop these practices.  You can view and search ideas without logging into this site, but in order to post, respond to, or vote on an idea, you must log in. You can log in by creating an IdeaScale account by submitting of a valid, working e–mail address.

We will not display this e-mail address on the site or share it with anyone outside of SSA or IdeaScale. We do not validate the information we gather when you establish or edit your profile, so you can enter whatever you like. Profile information is limited to a chosen first name, last name and, if you choose to provide one, a Zip code.  This information is visible to other visitors to the site. Text entered into these publicly visible fields may be subject to post–moderation if we determine any of the text to be abusive or inappropriate.

We gather/publish information from you on this Web site in two ways:

1. Information You Enter upon Registration

You do not have to give us personal information to simply browse or search this Web site.

To provide you with the opportunity to interact in this online dialogue, we require registration and request information to identify you when you use the site. All that is required is a valid, working e–mail address, which we will confirm via a return e–mail. You may voluntarily provide a Zip code if you choose, or edit your profile to provide a first and last name. Your Zip code and your chosen first/last name will be visible to other users of the site, but your e–mail address is not viewable by anyone other than the SSA administrators and moderators of this site, nor do we share it with anyone other than IdeaScale for site administration purposes. We may analyze Zip codes, as available, to determine from which areas of the United States ideas and comments are being submitted. We will use Zip code information only for geographical-type purposes for metrics, not to track individuals or link specific comments to individuals.

Ideas and comments are displayed with the first part of an email address that the visitor provides upon registration.  For example, if the e–mail address you use to register is john.doe@email.com, your username will automatically be set to "john.doe." However, you may change this once you are signed in by editing your user profile and choosing a new first/last name that will override the default setting.

We collect no other personal information about you, other than that which you choose to provide as part of the registration process. It is our policy not to make personal information available to anyone unless it is required by law or as otherwise described in this policy. We do not sell, rent, exchange, or otherwise disclose any of this information about our site visitors, nor do we export data regarding email addresses or first and last name, if entered, for any reason other than if required by law or to track down repeated abusive behavior on the site.

The information you submit is for log–in purposes only. Beyond the information you submit for registration, you should not enter any personally identifiable information when you submit ideas or comments.  SSA moderators will remove any personally identifiable information from ideas or comments.

We do not retrieve or store comments or ideas by your email address or other personal identifiers.  Thus, the data we collect on this site will not technically be stored in a system of records under the Privacy Act of 1974.  While not covered by the Privacy Act, to the extent your comments or ideas and related information are within SSA’s control, that information is covered under our privacy regulation at 20 C.F.R. Part 401.  SSA wrote this regulation to ensure your privacy. 

Please note that we store all information that you enter into the site on servers owned and maintained by IdeaScale. Therefore, although your e–mail address may be visible to SSA personnel who are administering and moderating this dialogue, and we may use it to contact you regarding your participation in this engagement, we do not collect, disseminate, or maintain this information.  To the extent we have control over your comments, ideas, and related information, you may have access to any of it and we will correct any errors you may find.  Our regulation subsection 401.40 provides information on how you may get information about you and subsection 401.65 provides information on how you may correct information about you. Questions about IdeaScale’s access and corrections procedures should be handled as described at the end of this statement.

2. Cookies

A persistent cookie is a piece of data stored by a user's browser that helps a Web site or service such as this dialogue tool to recognize that user's unique computer, and thus to "remember" you on return visits. You can remove or block cookies by changing the settings of your browser.

IdeaScale (the tool SSA has selected to support our Open Government public discussion) uses an optional persistent cookie in this tool to recognize returning participants so they do not have to log in each time they visit the site. IdeaScale uses the cookie to save user login information (the user's login ID) between sessions. The user is given a choice (an "opt in" approach) to check a box to stay signed in. This is an optional convenience to you if you do not want to have to remember your login information each time you visit the site.  No personal information is saved in this cookie, nor can we use the cookie to track user activities across other Web sites.

The Office of Management and Budget policy allows this use of cookies. Additional explanation of the types of cookies, our policies regarding use of them, and all third-party vendors we use which implement cookie technology http://www.ssa.gov/privacy.html.

SSA is allowed to gather other information on participants, such as your IP address (the location of your computer on the internet), for the purpose of analyzing usage patterns.  However, we have decided not to do so. 

Links to Other Sites

This Web site has links to other government and non–government Web sites. Once you follow a link to a different Web site, your actions are no longer subject to this Terms of Participation and Privacy Policy. These outside links are not within our control and may not follow the same privacy, security, or accessibility polices.

Children's Privacy

We are especially concerned about protecting children’s privacy.  Therefore, we comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA).  COPPA, and its accompanying Federal Trade Commission regulations, establishes United States Federal law that protects the privacy of children using the Internet.  We encourage parents and teachers to involve themselves in children’s Internet explorations.  We do not intentionally collect information from children under the age of 13.  Our site is not intended to solicit information of any kind from children under 13. 

Internet Security

For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, this Web application employs a number of generally accepted security programs to protect the security of the infrastructure, to monitor network traffic, and to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.  You should direct questions regarding security practices to the email address at the end of this statement.

Changes to this Policy

We will revise or update this policy if our practices change, or as we develop better ways to keep you informed about them. You should refer back to this page often for the latest information and the effective date of any changes. If we decide to change this policy, we will post a new policy on our site and change the date at the bottom. Changes to the policy shall not apply retroactively.

Thank you for taking the time to read the Privacy Policy. We encourage your participation in the discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

If you have any questions or concerns about our privacy practices, please contact open.government@ssa.gov