Commitment to privacy

Virginia Commonwealth University is strongly committed to maintaining the privacy of  individuals’ personal data and information. Further, VCU collects personal data and information only to the extent necessary.

Privacy notice

The following information explains the internet privacy practices the university has adopted for its official university sites. This shall not be construed as a contractual promise, and the university reserves the right to amend this statement at any time without notice. Privacy and public records obligations of the university are governed by applicable Virginia statutes, including, but not limited to, the Virginia Privacy Protection Act of 1976 and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and by any applicable U.S. federal laws.

 

What is collected and how it is used

When you access Ram Pages, the following information is automatically collected:

  • Your IP address
  • Date and time
  • Pages visited and duration of visit
  • Searches executed on the sites
  • Type of browser used, computing platform
  • Referring web page, if present

No other information is automatically collected through Ram Pages. You may choose to submit “optional information” by email or online forms.

Optional information:

  • Information sent via email, including email metadata
  • Information you submit to us through a form on Ram Pages

Registered Users

  • If you create an account on this site, you will be prompted to select a Username and provide your Email Address.
  • When choosing a Username, we strongly advise you not use or include your real name. Usernames cannot be changed.
  • Your Username and Email Address are stored in the website’s database. Your Email Address is used to send you an email with a link to set your password or to send you an email with a link to reset your password in the event you forget your password.
  • Once an account is created, you must contact an administrator to have it deleted.
  • Accounts have a numeric User ID assigned to them when they are created. The User ID cannot be changed.

Profiles

  • An anonymized string created from your email address (also called a hash) is provided to the Gravatar service to see if a Profile picture of you is available for display. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: https://automattic.com/privacy/
  • You may optionally complete your Profile by providing your First Name, Last Name, Website (URL) and/or Biographical info. These additional details are also saved in the website’s database. You may edit these details, and your Email Address, in your Profile at any time.
  • You may also choose how your name is displayed (your Display Name) to visitors to the site (e.g. in comments you create) in your Profile.
  • Your Username, First Name, Last Name and Email Address are accessible by administrators on the site.
  • Your Profile Picture (Gravatar), Display Name, Website (URL) (if any) and Biographical Info (if any) may be visible to visitors to the website (e.g. if you leave a comment or contribute an article).
  • If you author an article on the website, your Username, User ID, Profile Picture (Gravatar), Display Name, Website (URL) (if any) and Biographical Info (if any) are provided to any visitor using the website’s REST API interface.

Media

  • If you upload media (e.g. images) to the website, you should avoid uploading images with EXIF GPS location data included. Visitors to the website can download and extract any location data included in images on the website.
  • Visitors using the website’s REST API interface can correlate uploaded media to a particular user. This may allow such visitors to map a user to a particular time and location if EXIF GPS location data was included in the uploaded media.

Embedded Content

  • Articles on this site may include embedded content from other services (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.).
  • These services may collect your IP Address, your User Agent, store and retrieve cookies on your browser, embed additional third party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including correlating your interaction with the content with your account with that service, if you are logged in to that service.

Comments

Comments Left by All Users

  • If you elect to leave a comment on an article, in addition to the comment text you provide we also collect your IP Address and your User Agent.
  • Your comment text, your Name, Email Address, Website (URL), IP Address and User Agent are accessible by administrators on our site.
  • An anonymized string created from your Email Address (also called a hash) is provided to the Gravatar service to see if a profile picture of you is available for display. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: https://automattic.com/privacy/ Prior to approval of your comment, your profile picture is only visible to administrators. After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.
  • Following approval of your comment, your comment text, your Name, and Website (URL) (if provided) are visible to the public.
  • Comments containing links or certain words or phrases may require manual approval by an administrator.
  • Your comment, including comment text, your Name, Email Address, Website (URL), IP Address and User Agent, is:
    • shared with the Akismet service to determine whether or not your comment is spam. The Akismet service privacy policy is available here: https://automattic.com/privacy/
    • stored in the website’s database, access to which is restricted to site administrators. Site administrator authentication is by username and password.
    • retained indefinitely until explicitly deleted by an administrator.

Comments Left by Logged In Users

  • You may edit the Display Name used for new comments in your profile.
  • If your role on the site has sufficient permission (e.g. Editor), you may edit or delete comments.

Comments Left by Logged Out Users / Visitors

  • If you are not logged in to the site and elect to leave a comment on an article, we require your Name and your Email Address and we request your Website (URL). You may also elect to provide a partial name, initials or even a pseudonym in lieu of your full name. You are not required to provide a website URL.
  • When you leave a comment, you will be asked if you opt-in to saving your Name, Email Address and Website (URL) in your browser for future commenting. If you so opt-in, we store three cookies on your browser to make it easier for you to comment again in the future. The cookies contain your Name, your Email Address and your Website (URL). They are set to expire after one year.

Cookies

  • If you are logged out and leave a comment on this site you may opt-in to saving your name, email address and website. If you opt-in, three cookies will be created – one for your name, one for your email address and one for your website. These cookies are unique to this site and will persist for 1 year. (comment_author_{site}, comment_author_email_{site}, comment_author_url_{site})
  • If you attempt to log in to this site, we will set a temporary cookie to determine if your browser accepts cookies at all. This cookie contains no personal data and is discarded when you close your browser. (wordpress_test_cookie)
  • If you have an account and you log in to this site, we will set up to three cookies to save your log in information in your browser. These cookies are unique to this site and include your user name and a login token for you. If you select “Remember Me” these cookies will persist for two weeks. If not, they will persist for two days. Since these cookies save your user name and login information, if you log into this site using a public computer, it is important to log out before leaving the computer to prevent unauthorized access. (wordpress_{site}, wordpress_sec_{site}, wordpress_logged_in_{site}).
  • If you have an account, if your role permits it and if you use the administration pages of this site, up to two additional cookies will be saved in your browser. These cookies both include your user ID. The first cookie contains any screen options you’ve selected and the second contains the timestamp of the last time you visited an administration page. They expire after 1 year. (wp-settings-{userID}, wp-settings-time-{userID})
  • If you have an account, if your role permits it and if you use the administration pages of this site to edit articles, an additional cookie will be saved in your browser. This cookie includes no personal data and simply indicates the post ID of the article you just edited. It expires after 1 day. (wp-saving-post)

 

Embedded Content From Other Websites

Embeds are pieces from other websites that are shown from time to time on our websites. They behave in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website and may use cookies or capture information. Typically embedded content is from websites that share videos, images, or other content. These services may collect your IP Address, your User Agent, store and retrieve cookies on your browser, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including correlating your interaction with the content with your account with that service, if you are logged in to that service.

Links to the privacy policies of the most common services have been included below. Where a general privacy policy is not available, the applicable country is indicated.

The way we use information

VCU may use non-identifying and aggregate information to improve the experience of visitors to VCU official sites. In some cases, this aggregate information may be shared with outside parties contracted by VCU to host, manage or analyze the collected information for the purpose of delivering and improving the content on VCU official sites.

We keep client information from our systems in accordance with the local, state and federal record retention requirements after the web page is transmitted, but we do not try to obtain any information to link it to the individuals who browse our website. On occasions when we detect cyber threats targeting one or more of our websites, logs of access information are retained to permit a security investigation and in such cases may be forwarded together with any other relevant information in our possession to law enforcement agencies.

We use the information you provide about yourself when placing an order or request only to complete that order or request. We do not share this information with outside parties except to the extent necessary to complete that order or request. Similarly, we use the information you provide about someone else when placing an order or request only to complete that order or request. Again, we do not share this information with outside parties except to the extent necessary to complete that order or request.

We generally use return email addresses only to answer the email we receive. Such addresses are generally not used for any other purpose and by university and state policy are not shared with outside parties.

Finally, we never use or share the personally identifiable information provided to us online in ways unrelated to the ones described above without clear notice and the opportunity to opt out or otherwise prohibit such uses.

Links to external websites

VCU official sites may contain links to external (not directly affiliated with VCU) websites. VCU is not responsible for the privacy practices or content of external organizations. We recommend you review the privacy statements of each external site that collects personal information.

Providing information is your choice

There is no requirement for you to provide any information at our website; however, some features or services may not be made available to you without the collection of some information.

Our commitment to information security

To prevent unauthorized access, maintain information accuracy and ensure the correct use of information, we have put in place appropriate and industry standard physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online, consistent with the policies of the university and with the laws and regulations of the commonwealth of Virginia.

Your rights to your personal data

You control your personal data, and you may choose to disclose your personal data to VCU. If you provide VCU with your personal data through our websites,  then unless prohibited by law, you have the right to request the review, modification or deletion of your personal data.

Contacting us

If you have additional questions or concerns about this privacy statement, privacy related policies and practices, please email altlab@vcu.edu. If you wish to review or change information gathered about you via Ram Pages, you may contact altlab@vcu.edu, who will assist locating the person directly responsible for requests to review or change your personal data.