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Info Services > Policy > Information Privacy Policy

Information Privacy Policy

There are various facilities accessible to the general public on the NRAO's web pages. Some of these include forms where the user is requested to fill in some data or information on themselves (e.g., their e-mail address or name). In addition, our information services (www, ftp, mail/majordomo servers etc.) keep logs of certain information.

NRAO's privacy policy can be stated simply:

  • We will not collect any personal information about you when you access our network services unless you choose to provide that information to us.

The purpose of this page is to ensure that you are aware of, and understand what information may be collected when you use our public-access facilities, and what we do with that information. Common sense is the general rule here; we will endeavour to keep any personal information private, we won't spam you, and we won't publish any specific information about you without your prior permission.

In General

Information which the NRAO maintains about our user community, such as e-mail addresses of observers and of mailing-list subscribers, is normally available only for internal access. Please note, however, that the archives of some e-mail discussion groups hosted by the NRAO are, by request of the group involved, publicly accessible; this includes archives for the AIPS++ and ALMA software projects. By posting to these discussion groups, you may therefore make public the e-mail address from which you posted.

E-mail addresses and other information obtained through any of the means below will NOT be sold or released to any third party, without prior written or authenticated e-mail consent from the owner of the information.

Web Access

As with most web servers on the net, our server will automatically record the following information routinely in a "log" file:

  • Your IP address, and hostname if available;
  • The date and time of your access;
  • The pages you visit on our server;
  • The type of browser and operating system you use (your browser will give this information automatically to all web servers); and
  • The referring page, if there was one.

These log files are private and confidential and will not be released to the general public. Statistics on what pages are the most popular, what domains are our biggest users, etc. may be released internally to NRAO technical staff, but these do not include any personal information. The intent of these statistics is simply to make our services better.

For web forms, the privacy policy pertaining to the information you enter will be stated on the form only if it deviates from the following: your information will be treated as private and confidential unless you clearly state and request otherwise.

FTP Access

The policy in the Web section above applies here. In addition, our ftp server records whether your access was in binary or ASCII mode, and whatever e-mail address you enter as a "password" for anonymous ftp access (your browser may decide this; e.g., under Netscape, Edit Preferences, Advanced section, there is an option called "send email address as anonymous FTP password").


Any incoming electronic mail to NRAO will generate several log entries that include the routine information associated with normal SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol) operation. Such log entries do NOT include the body (main text) of the message.

In all cases, the information on mail transactions is collected and retained in log files which will not be made available to the general public. The log entries will contain the e-mail address of the sender, its size, the number of recipients, the message ID, and the actual recipient within the NRAO and status of delivery (deferred, success, etc.)

This information is kept purely to help us diagnose system problems, or activities that may violate our Acceptable Use Policy or other Operational or Employee rules and regulations.

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