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E-Democracy.org – Project Blog

E-Democracy.Org Adopts Privacy and Public Life Policy

Written by Steven Clift

The E-Democracy.Org Board adopted a final “Privacy and Public Life Policy” to guide our participants in their participation. Because our Issues Forums are fundamentally about public life, we’ve avoided collecting detailed personal information other than name, city, and e-mail. (St. Paul does collect more information before someone can post.) Now that we’ve added an e-newsletter, accept online donations, etc. we’ve decided to develop a full policy.

The current version will always be here. Below is the text as adopted in February 2009 after consultation with our local forum leaders and other via our public wiki:

E-Democracy.Org Privacy and Public Life Policy

Participation in E-Democracy.Org is fundamentally about public life.

We seek to create a safe, trusting environment where people know who has the ability to communicate publicly with them in our forums. While this is a community experience not a private life activity, we do take actions to protect your privacy.

E-Democracy does not sell, rent, or exchange private information with third parties on individuals using our web site, forums, or services. Representatives of E-Democracy.Org including staff, contractors, Board members, Forum Managers, and local volunteers may not use personally identifiable information that is provided to E-Democracy.Org for any purposes that are unrelated to the mission and official activities of E-Democracy.Org and its local affiliates.

  • For forum registration and verification purposes, we require real names, community, country, and at least one valid e-mail address.
  • Only members may post to a forum, and by submitting such a post, members share their e-mail address with other members via e-mail as typical with e-mail discussion lists. We obscure e-mail addresses in the web versions of posts.
  • The names of registered members of our public forums are listed with each forum on the web.
  • Anyone may read posts via our web site, but non-members do not have access to posters’ e-mail addresses, and cannot post to a forum. If you wish to remain anonymous, do not register and do not join a forum.
  • Our forum system uses “cookies” to allow you to maintain a logged in status and we use basic web statistic analytical tools. We do not monitor the viewing activities of users nor disclose such information.
  • Our Content Removal Policy does allow requests to redact personal information you or others shared via a public forum that is determined to present a potential threat to that individuals safety.
  • Posts, including the name of the author, made to our public forums, similar to print letter to the editor, may be publicly accessible in perpetuity.
  • Forums include optional member profiles with public fields will be accessible to others. Sharing public biographic information among members builds reciprocal trust. We hide e-mail addresses, but allow a “request contact” feature to ensure participation equality for web-based participants. Do not include information in these optional fields that you do not want to be public. Internet search engines may index your public posts and voluntarily provided profile information.

Any personal information collected by specific forums, local committees/chapters, or for use with other services owned and operated by E-Democracy.Org, labeled private will not be disclosed publicly. By default, as a “public life” initiative, information fields not clearly labeled private should be considered public, viewable, and potentially accessible.

Specific non-forum services, such as e-mail newsletters, surveys requesting demographic information, and online donation systems will have clearly stated additional privacy guarantees as appropriate.

Adopted by the E-Democracy.Org Board, February 2009

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