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Web Policies and Notices
Endorsement Disclaimer — Links to Other Sites
Reference in this Web site to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government or National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH is not responsible for the contents of any "off-site" Web page referenced from this server.
Endorsement Disclaimer — Pop-Up Advertisements
When visiting our Web site, your Web browser may produce pop-up advertisements. These advertisements were most likely produced by other Web sites you visited or by third party software installed on your computer. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) does not endorse or recommend products or services for which you may view a pop-up advertisement on your computer screen while visiting our site.
The information provided using this Web site is only intended to be general summary information to the public. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations.
It is not NIH’s intention to provide specific medical advice to users of the NIH Web site, instead we provide users with information to help them better understand their health, diagnosed conditions, and the current approaches related to treatment, prevention, screening, and supportive care. NIH urges users to consult with a qualified health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their personal medical questions.
Press releases and other materials meant for public use will not be posted to the NIH Web site unless they were developed by or for NIH.
This site is maintained by the U.S. Government. It is protected by various provisions of Title 18, U.S. Code. Violations of Title 18 are subject to criminal prosecution in federal court.
For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, we employ software programs to monitor traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage. In the event of authorized law enforcement investigations, and pursuant to any required legal process, information from these sources may be used to help identify an individual.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is making every effort to ensure that the information available on our website is accessible to all. If you use special adaptive equipment to access the Web and encounter problems when using our site, please contact us via our Ask NIH online form and we will attempt to provide the information to you in a suitable format. It would be helpful if you can be as specific as possible when describing the information you seek.
If you prefer to call, our main number is 301-496-4000, or you can first review our list of toll-free numbers.
For NIH employees who need assistance with accessibility, please contact the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion officer in your institute or center.
Notice to Limited English Proficient Individuals
NIH is renewing its commitment to providing meaningful access to its programs and activities for people with limited English proficiency (LEP). In accordance with Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,” the information translated on the nih.gov site and on the sites of its Institutes and Centers is free of charge to the public.
When visitors submit questions or comments via the Ask NIH online form, NIH staff responds to the inquiries and files them. Only designated staff members requiring access to the emails to respond, may view, or answer them.
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 (an IP address is a number that is automatically assigned to a computer when surfing 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 an NIH Web site (such as google.com or bing.com); and,
- Demographic and interest data.
We use this information to measure the number of visitors to our site and its various sections and to help make our site more useful to visitors. This information cannot be used to identify you as an individual.
How NIH Collects Information
NIH.gov uses Google Analytics to collect the information in the bulleted list in the Types of Information Collected section above. Google Analytics gathers information automatically and continuously. No Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is collected. NIH staff conducts analyses and reports on the aggregated data from Google Analytics and those reports are only available to NIH.gov managers, members of the NIH.gov communications and web teams, and other designated staff who require this information to perform their duties.
Additionally, NIH.gov participates in the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), in which Google Analytics data is collected from websites across the Federal Government. For more information on DAP, please visit the DigitalGov website.
NIH also uses online surveys to collect opinions and feedback from a random sample of visitors. NIH.gov uses the ForeSee Results’ American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) online survey to obtain feedback and data on visitors’ satisfaction with the NIH.gov website. This survey does not collect PII. Although the survey invitation pops up for a random sample of visitors, it is optional. If you decline the survey, you will still have access to the identical information and resources at the NIH.gov site as those who do not take the survey. The survey reports are available only to NIH.gov managers, members of the NIH.gov Communications and Web Teams, and other designated staff who require this information to perform their duties.
NIH retains the data from Google Analytics, and ACSI survey results as long as needed to support the mission of the NIH.gov website.
The Office of Management and Budget Memo M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies 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 NIH 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 (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.
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."
We use persistent cookies to enable Webtrends and Google Analytics to differentiate between new and returning NIH.gov visitors. Persistent cookies remain on your computer between visits to NIH.gov until they expire. We also use persistent cookies to block repeated invitations to take the ACSI survey. The persistent cookies that block repeated survey invitations expire in 90 days. 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 session or persistent 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 at NIH.gov. Instructions for disabling or opting out of cookies in the most popular browsers are located at https://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions. Please note that by following the instructions to opt-out of cookies, you will disable cookies from all sources, not just those from NIH.gov.
How Personal Information Is Protected
You do not have to give us personal information to visit the NIH Web sites. However, if you choose to receive alerts or e-newsletters, we collect your email address to complete the subscription process.
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, epidemiology research study, 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 email 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 NIH 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 website or form which asks you to provide personally identifiable information. The notice must address the following five 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
Data Safeguarding and Privacy
NIH uses web measurement and customization technologies to help our Web sites function better for visitors and to better understand how the public uses the online resources we provide. All uses of web-based technologies comply with existing policies with respect to privacy and data safeguarding standards. Information Technology (IT) systems owned and operated by NIH are assessed using Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) posted for public view on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Web site (http://www.hhs.gov/pia/). NIH conducts and publishes a PIA for each use of a third-party website and application (TPWA) as they may have a different functionality or practice. TPWA PIAs are posted for public view on DHHS Web site http://www.hhs.gov/pia/#Third-Party.
- Purpose of the web measurement and/or customization technology;
- Usage tier, session type, and technology used;
- Nature of the information collected;
- Purpose and use of the information;
- Whether and to whom the information will be disclosed;
- Privacy safeguards applied to the information;
- Data retention policy for the information;
- Whether the technology is enabled by default or not and why;
- How to opt-out of the web measurement/customization technology;
- Statement that opting-out still permits users to access comparable information or services; and,
- Identities of all third-party vendors involved in the measurement and customization process.
Data Retention and Access Limits
NIH will retain data collected using the following technologies long enough to achieve the specified objective for which they were collected. The data generated from these activities falls under the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) General Records Schedule (GRS) 20-item IC 'Electronic Records,' and will be handled per the requirements of that schedule (http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/grs/grs20.html).
How NIH.gov uses Third-Party Web sites and Applications
As part of the OMB Memo M-10-06, Open Government Directive, the NIH uses a variety of new technologies and social media options to communicate and interact with citizens. These sites and applications include popular social networking and media sites, open source software communities and more. TPWAs are Web-based technologies that are not exclusively operated or controlled by NIH, such as applications not hosted on a.gov domain or those that are embedded on NIH Web pages. Users of TPWAs often share information with the general public, user community, and/or the third-party operating the Web site. These actors may use this information in a variety of ways. TPWAs could cause PII to become available or accessible to NIH and the public, regardless of whether the information is explicitly solicited or collected by NIH.
For any NIH TPWA that collects PII, the list below also includes details on the information NIH collects and how we will protect your private information.
Third-Party Web Sites and Applications
GovDelivery Subscription Management
NIH conducts and publishes a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for each use of a third-party website as they may have a different functionality or practice. To learn more, visit the published PIAs at http://www.hhs.gov/pia/#Third-Party.
For more information on the uses of social and new media for which GSA has negotiated a federally-friendly Terms of Service Agreement, visit DigitalGov at https://www.digitalgov.gov/resources/negotiated-terms-of-service-agreements/.
This page last reviewed on April 25, 2019