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Online Privacy Policy

I. Online Privacy Policy

Privacy Statement

The purpose of this policy is to explain how we handle information we collect during your visit to Census Bureau web sites. This policy does not apply to third-party web sites that you are able to access from our web sites, nor does it cover other Census Bureau information collection practices that do not happen on the Internet.

We do not collect personally identifiable information (name, address, e-mail address, social security number, or other personal unique identifiers) or business identifiable information[1] on our web sites unless we specifically advise you that we are doing so.

Your rights under the Privacy Act:

This policy is updated when the Census Bureau makes relevant technology improvements.


1 Business Identifiable Information is defined as (a) information that is defined in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential” (5 U.S.C.552(b)(4)). This information is exempt from automatic release under the (b)(4) FOIA exemption. “Commercial” is not confined to records that reveal “basic commercial operations” but includes any records [or information] in which the submitter has a “commercial interest” and can include information submitted by a nonprofit entity. Or (b) commercial or other information that, although it may not be exempt from release under FOIA, is exempt from disclosure by law (e.g., 13 U.S.C. 9).

A. Data Collected Automatically

When you visit our web sites to read pages or download information we automatically collect and store the following non-personally identifying information:

  • The Internet protocol (IP) address from which you access our web site. An IP address is a unique number that is automatically assigned to the computer you are using whenever you are surfing the web. This is used for our own Internet security protocols to help protect the security of the Census Bureau’s IT systems and your data.
  • The type of browser, such as Safari, Internet Explorer, or Firefox and operating system, such as Windows, macOS, or Linux, used to access our site, to optimize your web page experience.
  • The date and time our web site is accessed, for the purpose of monitoring demand.
  • The pages visited, for the purpose of improving the usefulness of our web site by providing helpful links and removing pages that are not read.
  • The last web site you visit, if that web site contains a link to a Census Bureau web page, indicates how you found this web site.

The information we retain does not include personally identifiable information. The above information is maintained in our system logs 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. The logs may be kept indefinitely and used at any time and in any way necessary to prevent a security breach and to ensure the integrity of the data on our servers.

B. Web Measurement and Customization Technologies

To better serve our visitors, we use technology to track new and returning visitors actions while on the website. These small files are commonly referred to as "cookies." Our cookies do not contain any personally identifiable information. We use this information to help us identify workflows and trends, to optimize your experience, and also resolve common problems on our site.

There are three “tiers” of these web measurement and customization technologies [2], as established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB):

Tier 1 - Single Session

This technology tracks the user’s online interactions within a single session or visit to a single web site. Any information related to a particular visit to the web site is deleted from the user’s computer immediately after the session ends.

Tier 2 - Multi Session without Personally Identifiable Information

This technology notices when a user returns to a web site and “remembers” his or her online interactions and preferences across multiple sessions, typically for the purpose of statistics on web usage, but also for customizing people’s online experience.

Tier 3 - Multi Session with Personally Identifiable Information

This tier encompasses any use of multi-session web measurement and customization technologies when PII and BII is collected (including when the agency is able to identify an individual as a result of its use of such technologies). The Census Bureau does not use Tier 3 technologies. The Census Bureau uses both Tier 1 and Tier 2 cookies.

Embedded Third-Party Services on Census Bureau Websites

Some webpages also contain embedded content and applications from third-party service providers, for example, we use services from YouTube to display videos. These third-party service providers may also collect information on visitors who visit a Census Bureau webpage hosting the embedded content or application. For more details on how and when these third-party service providers collect, use, and share information, you may wish to review their terms of service and privacy policies.

The privacy policies for other third-party services used by Census Bureau include:


2 Web measurement and customization technologies are defined as technologies that are used to remember a user’s online interactions with a website or online application in order to conduct analysis of usage or to customize the user’s experience.

C. Blocking the use of Cookies (Opt Out)

The technologies we describe in this policy are the default settings. However, you can remove or block the use of web cookies by changing the setting of your browser as described at www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml.

Should you choose to remove or block the use of web cookies, you will still have access to all information and services at our website.

D. Electronic Census Bureau Surveys or Censuses

Under federal law, we protect the confidentiality of the data we collect. When you respond to a survey or census via the Internet, you may have to provide us personally identifiable information (PII) or business identifiable information (BII). For each survey and census, we provide an explanation to respondents about the confidentiality of the data and the laws that protect the data (e.g., Title 13, United States Code Section 9 (a) protects against unauthorized disclosure under penalty of $250,000 and up to 5 years in prison, or both).

When you respond to surveys or censuses over the Internet that collect identifiable information, Tier 2 technology is used. Personally identifiable information or business identifiable information collected in the course of a survey or census is not used to customize your online experience.

Once you access an online survey or census, we automatically collect information about how long it took you to complete the survey or census, which questions you answered, and how many times you logged into the survey or census. In addition, we collect data on navigation of the survey or census, which includes mouse clicks and any data entered onto the survey or census, whether or not the survey or census is completed and submitted. These data are used in aggregate to assess the usability of the survey or census, or for other authorized statistical purposes. They are protected under the same confidentiality procedures as response data.

All web data submissions are encrypted to strengthen further the protection of the information we collect online. Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, your data are protected from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit your data.

Questions concerning this policy may be addressed to: ask.census.gov, attn: Policy Coordination Office.

II. Other Information We Collect From E-Mail and Other Online Forms

When you send us personally identifiable information or business identifiable information over e-mail, we only use the information we need in order to respond. When you send us personally identifiable information or business identifiable information on online collection forms (e.g. conference registrations, contact lists, etc.), we only use the information for the stated purposes (shown either on the form or on a corresponding Privacy Act Statement). All information our web site visitors submit via e-mail or an online form is voluntary. Submitting voluntary information constitutes your consent to the use of the submitted information for the stated purpose

We may contact you by email to invite you to participate in a survey or census, but we will not ask you to provide responses via email.

III. Data Retention

We retain questions and comments only if required by law, or for a specific program need, as specified by the National Archives and Records Administration’s General Records Schedule (GRS) 20, Electronic Records or other approved records schedule as applicable.

IV. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), 16 CFR Part 312, requires operators of web sites directed to children under age 13, and operators that have actual knowledge of collecting or maintaining personal information from children under 13, to obtain verifiable consent from parents prior to the collection, use, or disclosure of personal information from children. Only with the consent of a parent or guardian, the Census Bureau may collect information from children under age 13 for some of our surveys. However, the Census Bureau does not knowingly collect personal information from children under age 13 when using our websites otherwise.

For more information regarding COPPA please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Privacy web site and select the Children’s Privacy link.

V. Accessibility

The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to providing accessible Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to individuals with disabilities, including members of the public and federal employees, by meeting or exceeding the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In addition, the Census Bureau is also committed to ensuring accessibility of our buildings and facilities as required by the Architectural Barriers Act, 42 U.S. Code 4151 through 4157.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as Amended (29 U.S. Code 794d)

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires agencies, during the procurement, development, maintenance, or use of ICT, to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to and use of ICT information and data comparable to the access and use afforded to individuals without disabilities (i.e., ICT accessibility), unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. More information on Section 508 and the technical standards can be found at www.section508.gov.

If you have feedback, questions, or concerns relating to the accessibility of any content that interferes with your ability to access the information on the Census Bureau's Web site, please contact (301)763-1508 or e-mail census.508.accessibility@census.gov for assistance.

If you believe that the ICT used by the Census Bureau does not comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, you may file a Section 508 complaint by contacting the Census Bureau Accessibility Section 508 Program office at (301)763-1508 or census.508.accessibility@census.gov.

To enable us to respond in a manner most helpful to you, please indicate the nature of your accessibility problem, the preferred format in which to receive the material, the Web address (URL) of the material with which you are having difficulty, and your contact information.

Links to Third Party Web sites

Some pages on this Web site may contain links to third party sites not operated by the Census Bureau. These sites may not adhere to similar privacy, security, or accessibility policies and standards. The Census Bureau is not responsible for the content and accessibility of those sites, their partners, or advertisers.

Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (42 U.S. Code §§ 4151–57)

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) requires access to facilities that are designed, built, altered, or leased with federal funds. The Access Board is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the ABA. The Access Board's accessibility standards are available on their Web site at www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-aba-standards, and information about filing a complaint may be found at www.access-board.gov/aba-enforcement/file-a-complaint.

To allow us to better serve those with visual disabilities who are having difficulty accessing PDF documents; you may contact us directly for further assistance at 301-763-INFO (4636), 800-923-8282, or by submitting a request at ask.census.gov.

VI. Third Party Web Sites and Applications

The Census Bureau has a presence on several social media/Web 2.0 platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest, and other third-party services)) and clearly contain the Census Bureau’s official logo. Each of these web sites provides the Census Bureau unique ways of sharing information. It also allows visitors with a way to communicate with the agency. Some may allow visitors to log in, create profiles and save information in those profiles. We do not collect any personally identifiable information about you through your use of these social media/Web 2.0 platforms. We may collect public information, such as user/screen name, city, state, and zip code of visitors to these web sites, and comments posted about the Census Bureau for statistical, research, and promotional purposes only. Further, the Census Bureau has no control over the third-party’s use of this information and is not liable regarding the third-party’s safeguarding your information. These web sites have their own privacy, security and accessibility policies.

The Census Bureau will also use a third-party web site or application (hosted service) to conduct customer satisfaction surveys and/or feedback forms. These surveys and/or feedback forms may collect your name and email address for processing purposes. The results from these surveys or forms are used to conduct primary research into the quality of the Census Bureau programs and products. The results collected will be used strictly for internal program management purposes to assess staff work, material design and development and to enhance planning efforts for current and future surveys and censuses. In addition, other third-party web sites or applications may be used to host Census Bureau data products to be used by the public. These web sites do not require the use of personally identifiably information or business identifiable information.

VII. Security & Third Party Links

A. Security, Intrusion, and Detection

To ensure that computer service remains available to all users, this government IT system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage to our computer system. Web sites identified as representing an actual or potential security threat to Census Bureau information and/or information resources are blocked. Further, web sites that are known to violate Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, and/or Federal guidelines regarding access to certain types of web sites and/or content are blocked, for example:

  • Web sites hosting malware/spam
  • Web sites involved in the compromise of other government agencies
  • Adult content web sites
  • On-line storage and file sharing web sites
  • Freeware/Shareware web sites
  • Web sites attacking Census Bureau systems (attempting to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in Internet facing systems)
  • Web sites scanning Census Bureau systems (attempting to identify Internet facing systems)

B. Links to Other Web Sites

Our web site contains links to other federal agencies, international agencies, and private organizations. Once you link to another web site, you are subject to the policies of the new web site.

Links to non-government websites are denoted by . Our linking to non-government web sites does not constitute an endorsement of any products, services or the information found on them.

VIII. Contact Us

Need more information about the Census Bureau's privacy and confidentiality protections? Contact our Chief Privacy Officer at 301-763-6440 or toll-free at 1-800-432-1494.

IX. Data Requests

For information about data requests, please contact the Chief FOIA Officer at 1-800-432-1494, or by email at pco.policy.office@census.gov.

Page Last Revised - February 28, 2023
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