About FDA

Website Policies

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Privacy Policy

Introduction

Our privacy policy outlines the information we receive when you visit our site and how we use this information.

We receive two types of information when you visit our site:

  • Information automatically collected.
  • Information you choose to provide.

Information Automatically Collected

When you visit any website, the site can automatically collect information about your visit. When you browse through our site, read pages there, or download information, we collect certain information to measure how many visitors come to the different parts of the site so we can make the site more useful.

Example: We use browser information to help us design our site so the greatest number of people can view the pages correctly.

For every visitor, we collect and temporarily store the following information:

  • Your computer's Internet Protocol (IP) address, a number automatically assigned to your computer when you go on the Web.
  • The domain from which you access the Internet, such as aol.com, if you use an America Online account to access the internet.
  • The website address from which you came to our site, such as www.hhs.gov if you came by clicking an FDA link on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' site.
  • The date and time you arrived at our site and how long you spent there.
  • The name and version of your computer's operating system and browser, for example Windows 2000/Mozilla Firefox 5.
  • The pages you visited.

We use this information to improve our website and provide a better experience for our visitors. We use tools, Google Analytics and Urchin, to aggregate this information. The information is available only to our Web managers and staff who require this information to perform their duties. It is retained only for as long as needed for analysis purposes.

Web Measurement and Customization

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memo M-10-22, Guidance for Online Use of Web Measurement and Customization Technologies allows Federal agencies to use Web measurement and customization technologies such as session and persistent cookies.

We use cookies to improve website functions for visitors and to better understand how the public is using our website.

"Session Cookies"

Some services on our website use "session cookies." These are:

  • Small bits of text temporarily stored in your computer.
  • Used to aid searching and navigating the site.
  • Deleted when you close your browser.

As defined by OMB, our use of session cookies is "Usage Tier 1—Single Session." Tier 1 uses encompass “any use of single session Web measurement and customization technologies."  Data collected through our session cookies will be retained only for as long as needed to use for the measurement purposes.

"Persistent Cookies"

Some services on our website use multi-session cookies, also known as “persistent cookies.”  Persistent cookies are:

  • Small bits of text temporarily stored in your computer.
  • Placed on your computer for more than a single session.
  • Used to differentiate between new and returning site visitors, to customize our website for frequent visitors, and to assess site design and content.

Persistent cookies placed on your computer will expire two years after your last visit to our website. Data collected through persistent cookies will be retained by the specific FDA office associated with the website using the cookie.

OMB defines our use of persistent cookies as "Usage Tier 2—Multi-session without Personally Identifiable Information (PII)."  This applies to “any use of multi-session Web measurement and customization technologies when no PII is collected."

Use and Sharing of Cookie Data

We do not use session cookies or persistent cookies to collect PII and we do not share any data collected from cookies.

How to Opt-Out or Disable Cookies

Both session and persistent cookies pertaining to our website are enabled by default because of their integration with our website. 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 FDA.gov. Instructions for disabling or opting out of cookies in the most popular browsers are located at http://www.usa.gov/optout_instructions.shtml.

Note: If you disable cookies in your browser, it may cause problems with searching and displaying information.

Information You Choose to Provide

We collect and store no other information about you when you visit our site unless you choose to provide it. For example:

  • If you send us an email or submit an online form, we do not automatically receive your email address. However, you will need to provide it to us if you would like an email response. We will receive no other personally identifying information from your email unless you provide it.
  • If you submit a form on our website, we will receive only the personal information you include in the form.
  • Children's Privacy: We collect no information from children under 13. If a child sends us an email inquiry or comment, we will answer it, and then delete the email from our files.

PII you choose to provide is protected by security controls in accordance with the HHS Information Security and Privacy Policy, and, National Institutes of Standards and Technology and Office of Management and Budget guidance.

Note: Email is not necessarily secure against interception. If your communication is sensitive, or if it includes personal information such as your social security number, you can send it by postal mail instead.

To learn about information FDA collects under the Privacy Act of 1974 visit http://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/FOI/PrivacyAct/default.htm.  Summary Privacy Impact Assessments for FDA data systems are available at http://www.hhs.gov/pia/.

For a broader discussion of your rights under the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, visit http://publications.usa.gov/epublications/foia/foia.htm.

FDA Information Disclosure Policy

FDA will not disclose, give, sell, or transfer any personally identifiable information (PII) about our visitors unless it is required:

  • By law or regulation.
  • For law enforcement reasons.

Other possible uses of your information:

  • We may use PII to respond to you, in which case various people may need to see the information you provide in order to provide a response to you. If enough questions or comments come in that are the same, your question (but not your name) may be added to our Questions and Answers section. We use this information to help us improve our site.
  • We may enter information you send into an electronic database to share with attorneys or investigators involved in law enforcement or policy-making.
  • We may share information with other government agencies that have public health or consumer protection duties, in which case FDA or any of those agencies may contact you.
  • In other limited circumstances, including requests from Congress or private individuals, we may be required by law to disclose information you submit.

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Links to Other Sites

Our website has links to many other federal agencies, and, in a few cases, to private organizations, foreign governments and international organizations. You should be aware that if you access another site through a link we provide, you are subject to the privacy policy of that site.

Reference in any referred (linked) website to commercial products, services, manufacturers, or companies does not constitute an endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Health and Human Services, or FDA.

FDA is not responsible for the contents of any pages referred from its website.

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Third-Party Websites and Applications

In addition to FDA’s official website on www.fda.gov, FDA uses social media and third-party (non-FDA) websites to share information and to engage with the public.  For example, there may be third-party applications and/or services linked to or embedded on www.fda.gov to improve its functionality. Likewise, applications created by FDA may be embedded on third-party websites as a way to increase public awareness of FDA activities. Our integration of these products is intended to provide a seamless user experience and to enhance users’ ability to access information and communicate with FDA.

Some third-party websites and applications may make personally identifiable information (PII) available to the public and/or FDA based on user controlled settings or the privacy policies of the third-party. FDA will not collect, maintain, use, or share any PII that becomes available through FDA’s use of third-party websites or applications.

Please be aware that the privacy policy provided on social media and third-party websites that are not a part of the fda.gov domain may not be the same as the privacy policy described here. PII or other information you share through social media, or a third-party website or application may be accessible by non-government third parties. As described in these website policies, you can communicate directly with FDA without involving a third-party.

FDA conducts and publishes a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for each use of a third-party website. Each use of a third-party website may have unique functionality or practices. To learn more, review the published PIAs at http://www.hhs.gov/pia/.

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Website Content

The health and medical information on our website is not intended to take the place of advice or treatment from healthcare professionals. It is also not intended to substitute for the users' relationships with their own health care/pharmaceutical providers.

The Code of Federal Regulations is the authoritative source for FDA regulations.

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Information Quality

FDA is dedicated to:

  • Ensuring that all information it publishes reflects a level of quality corresponding to the nature and timeliness of the information.
  • Disseminating all its data as broadly and promptly as possible so that the public can benefit from FDA's mission to promote and protect the public health.

Note: In keeping with this commitment and in accordance with Public Law 106-554 and Office of Management and Budget requirements, HHS and FDA have developed information quality guidelines establishing quality assurance policies, standards, and processes.

The HHS guidelines are available at http://www.hhs.gov/infoquality/.

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Linking To or Copying Information On the FDA Website

Unless otherwise noted, the contents of the FDA website (www.fda.gov)—both text and graphics—are not copyrighted. They are in the public domain and may be republished, reprinted and otherwise used freely by anyone without the need to obtain permission from FDA. Credit to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the source is appreciated but not required.

People are also free to link to any URL on FDA's site. FDA's preference is that people link to the material on the FDA site (rather than copying it to their personal websites) because the agency continuously updates the information on the website as better information becomes available. A person copying documents to another website, instead of linking to them, would then have to monitor the original documents to know when these documents were updated by FDA or else risk giving bad or incorrect advice to visitors to their website. Providing consumers or health professionals with advice that is not fully up to date can lead to serious public health consequences. Providing industry advice that is not fully up to date can lead to companies being out of compliance with regulatory requirements.

If a person, nonetheless, decides to copy content or images, FDA strongly recommends that the copied item lists the date that the material was copied and provides a link back to its source on the FDA website. Users can then see for themselves if the copied material has been updated or changed.

FDA appreciates being informed about the use of website materials. Contact FDA, HFI-50, Rockville, MD 20857 or email webmail@oc.fda.gov.

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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. FDA doesn’t produce pop-up ads and doesn’t endorse or recommend products or services for which you may view a pop-up ad on your computer screen while visiting our site.

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Intrusion Detection

This site is maintained by the U.S. government and protected by various provisions of Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Violations of Title 18 are subject to criminal prosecution in federal court.

For site security purposes and to ensure that the site remains available to all users, we employ software programs that monitor traffic and 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.

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Contact Information

If you have any questions or comments about the FDA website, you can contact us by:

  • Calling 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332)
  • Sending a fax to 301-847-8622
  • Writing to: FDA, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue (HFI-50), Silver Spring, MD 20993
  • Using our on-line comment form.

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Page Last Updated: 11/11/2013
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