Archived American Civil Liberties Union Privacy Statement (May 7th, 2018 - March 31, 2021)
Effective as of May 7, 2018.
This Online Privacy Statement describes how we treat user data collected during your visit to the ACLU site. The ACLU site is aclu.org, and includes all web pages whose domain name contains aclu.org, www.aclu.org, or action.aclu.org. This is not the online privacy statement for other ACLU websites that don’t contain these domain names – for example, www.standwithsnowden.com – unless those websites link directly to this Online Privacy Statement. Neither is it the online privacy statement for other websites (e.g. blogs or social networking sites) where ACLU has a presence, such as ACLU pages on Facebook. Finally, this is not the online privacy statement for the websites of any ACLU affiliate organizations. In all of those cases, site-specific privacy terms apply, and are posted accordingly.
The Internet, generally speaking, is not currently a private place. As you visit websites, use search engines, and conduct business on the Internet, many different companies and organizations are gathering information about your online behavior by tracking your searches, visits, and transactions, and then by matching that data with other information about you. There are some things you can do to prevent your information from being collected. We encourage you to read our Easy Steps Everyone Can Take to Protect Their Digital Privacy to help protect your privacy online.
The ACLU takes many steps to protect your privacy when you visit the ACLU website. In order to advance our advocacy and outreach programs, and to provide you with a better experience while you are on the ACLU Site, we do allow some tracking to take place. How and when we do so is explained below.
Passively Collected Data
Like most websites, we may automatically receive and record information in our server logs from your browser when you visit aclu.org. The information that we collect with these automated methods may include your IP address, cookie information, browser type, system type, and the referring URL.
We use this type of information to measure and improve the performance of our site. On occasion we also access this type of information to investigate or maintain the stability and security of our site.
Voluntarily Submitted Data
Certain pages on the ACLU site may invite you to share personally identifying information, such as your name, address, email address, or telephone number. Sharing that information will allow you to make a donation, join our email list, sign a petition, or participate in other similar online activities.
We may use that voluntarily submitted data to:
- Fulfill your orders or transactions.
- Contact you about other ACLU activities or news, or about opportunities to support the ACLU.
- In the case of petitions, we may display on our website your first name, last initial, city and state, and deliver your first and last name, city and state, zip code, or congressional district to the advocacy target. Where required for federal agencies to accept public comments, we may also submit your email address and other required information.
- In the case of direct messages to advocacy targets (such as your member of congress), all required information fields (e.g. name, email address, etc.) will be passed on to the advocacy target with your message.
- In the case of blog comments, post your comment and, if given, your name.
- Deliver content to you on platforms such as social media, other websites, search results pages and mobile apps.
- If you have joined People Power, share your name and contact information with other volunteers, and acknowledge your participation in specific volunteer activities.
When We May Share Your Information With Other Organizations
When we give you an opportunity to voluntarily submit information about yourself, we may give you the option of indicating that you permit us to share that data with other parties such as coalition partners or specific legislators. We will not share your data with such parties unless you have indicated that you permit us to do so.
We sometimes allow other nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations to contact our members, or to contact other individuals who have chosen to share their information with us. Working with other organizations in this way, either on a rental basis or in an exchange, is critical to maintaining a strong membership base by allowing us to lower costs while reaching the widest possible audience. In order to protect your privacy, we do this through secure arrangements in which the external organization does not directly receive information about you. All such communications are done on a one-time use basis and are carried out by a third-party vendor, which keeps your information confidential. The external organization learns information about you only if you choose to respond to that third-party communication. If you don’t wish us to make information about you available for this type of communication, please let us know by clicking https://www.aclu.org/contact-us and submitting a request to opt out. We will be sure to honor your request.
In addition to those ways of sharing information with unrelated organizations, we may also share information with our own ACLU affiliates around the country. Our affiliates are bound to use that information only as allowed under this Online Privacy Statement, and with regard to their own operations.
Our Email List
If you sign up for our email list, we may collect data by using an embedded image to track whether you open our email and by using a URL that enables us to identify that you have taken an action, such as clicking a link in an email or signing an online petition.
This allows us to build a more effective advocacy program, to inform you about the ACLU issues you care about most, and to make it simpler for you to sign petitions and fill out surveys.
We work with a variety of vendors who help us process data, facilitate the operation of the ACLU site and deliver messages to you on other platforms. For example, outside vendors may help us analyze traffic on our site, process credit card transactions, or facilitate activities such as the collection and delivery of petition signatures. To the extent that any vendor has access to personally identifiable data about you, by virtue of the fact that it participates in the operation of the ACLU site, we require that vendor to promise that it will keep that data confidential and use it only for the purpose of carrying out the functions we have engaged it to perform. That is true both as to passively collected data and as to voluntarily submitted data, and also as to data from any cookie or other tracking device. There are two exceptions to this rule. First, we do allow some vendors to use certain aggregated data for other purposes, as described immediately below. Second, if you join our People Power volunteer program, some of the vendors who provide tools for that program will have broader rights to retain and use information about you. Please see the “People Power” section further below for an explanation of the special rules that apply to that program.
In some instances, we may agree to allow a vendor to take aggregated and anonymized data about activity on the ACLU site, and use that data for other purposes such as improvement of the vendor’s products or benchmarking for the vendor’s other clients. But we won’t agree to that unless we believe, in each instance, that the data won’t be recombined with other information to create any record about you as an identifiable individual.
People Power is the ACLU’s program for enrolling and organizing volunteers. When you indicate that you wish to join People Power, information about you may be passed through a variety of digital tools, such as tools for sending emails, scheduling events and allowing volunteers to communicate with one another. Some of these People Power tools are provided by vendors, and those vendors are not subject to the same limitations we describe above under “How We Work With Third-Party Vendors.” In the People Power context, each of the tools we use has its own privacy rules, determined by the individual vendors. You can see those other rules by reviewing the respectively posted privacy statement as you interact with each of the tools, for example as you use a texting tool or one of the scheduling tools. Some of the vendors may use tracking devices, or otherwise automatically collect information about you. Some may use information about you for purposes other than those of People Power, or disclose information about you to other parties.
Website performance cookies allow us to make the website easier and more pleasant to use. For example, they may enable us to:
- Determine how often and where you see our “breaking news” alerts or promotions.
- Save you time when filling out a form by populating it with information you provided in previous visits.
If you are visiting our website as a registered user — for example, when you manage your subscriptions for our email lists — we place cookies in your browser that allow our website to recognize that you are logged in.
We use analytics tools that place cookies, in order to give us a better understanding of how people engage with our website. That in turn allows us to gauge the current performance of Website features, and to develop better content. Analytics cookies provide us with information like:
- How many individual visitors we have
- How many visitors are new or returning
- How often visitors come to the website
- What content they’ve visited
- How visitors interact with particular pages or content
In addition, if you click on a link in an email we send to you — for example, to sign a petition — a cookie may be generated that enables us to identify that you have signed the petition.
Our site is connected in a variety of ways to content residing on other platforms. We provide links to content on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and to content on other sites, such as articles posted on the sites of news organizations. Our site also features embedded media, such as videos, that are hosted on other platforms (such as YouTube) but viewable directly through the buttons we provide. When you click on links or buttons for any of these types of external content, the providers of that content may place their own cookies on your computer, access existing cookies that were set when you previously visited other websites, or otherwise gather information about you as you access their content.
To learn about how those content hosts treat the data they collect through cookies and otherwise, see their respective online privacy policies and other posted guidance.
To learn how you can minimize the information about you collected by these types of content hosts, please see our Easy Steps Everyone Can Take to Protect Their Digital Privacy.
We have taken physical, electronic, and managerial measures to safeguard the information we collect. We work to ensure data accuracy and protect against unauthorized access to, and improper use of, information we collect online.
Information that can be readily linked to you personally, such as your name and address, is stored on secure servers and is not publicly accessible (unless, as discussed above, you have chosen to have us disclose information about you when you have signed a petition or submitted a blog comment). Additionally, all data transmitted to and from our website, including credit card numbers, are encrypted using industry standard measures to provide an additional level of security.
However, as noted above under “People Power,” different rules apply when you choose to participate in our People Power volunteer program. The various vendors who provide digital tools for that program each have their own approach to data security and data transmission. We do not generally impose data security standards or perform security audits on those vendors.
Our privacy statement may change from time to time. We will post privacy statement changes on this page and, if the changes are significant, we will provide a more prominent notice on our website. We will also keep prior versions of the Online Privacy Statement available for your review in this section.
- January 18, 2013 (comprehensive restatement)
- June 7, 2016 (comprehensive restatement)
- October 26, 2016 (clarifications of prior version, and new adjustments allowing us to reach website visitors on other online platforms)
- April 20, 2017 (clarifications to prior version regarding sharing visitor information with other organizations)
- May 7, 2018 (additions setting out the rules that apply when a visitor chooses to join our People Power volunteer program and clarifications regarding disclosures when we process petitions and other direct advocacy messages)
If you wish to withdraw or change personal information you shared with us previously or adjust personal preferences — such as your preferences regarding email lists — you may contact us to update our records. You have the following options to do this:
- Click on the link in the footer of any email you receive from the ACLU and use our preference center
- Send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send mail to our address: ACLU Membership Department, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004
To send us any other feedback, please visit: https://www.aclu.org/contact-us.