Overview

This is our policy regarding the privacy of information we collect on our web sites: onSponge.com (collectively, the “Websites”). This Privacy Policy includes examples of the types of personal information we collect and the kinds of companies with whom we share such information. These examples are illustrative and should not be considered a complete inventory of our information collection, use and sharing practices.

 

About Children

This site is not intended for children under the age of 7. We will not knowingly collect personally identifiable information via this site from visitors in this age group. We encourage parents to talk to their children about their use of the Internet and the information they disclose to Web sites.

 

Information We Collect and How We Use It

Summary of Information We Gather and Track

We gather two types of data about users: personal information, which individual users provide (i) when registering as a member of our Websites, (ii) when registering as a subscriber to one of our premium subscription services, (iii) when using tools like Blogrums, (iv) when participating in surveys and polls, and (v) when participating in surveys or sweepstakes; and tracking information, which is automatically collected about all visitors to the Websites.

Personal Information

We collect personal information in several places on our Websites, which are set forth generally below. We will always provide a secure area of our Websites for you to enter your information.

 

Membership

Currently, we do not require users to become members in order to have access to the free editorial and reference articles available on our flagship site, onSponge.com. However, if you’d like to receive one or more of our free email newsletters, gain access to the community features on our site, or comment/rate editorial content on onSponge.com, we require you to register to become a member. In order to register, you’ll have to supply us with your name, email and postal addresses, a unique User Name and password, and some additional information about you (e.g., the reason for your visit to onSponge.com, what kind of educational materials you are interested in, etc.). Additionally, you will be required to verify your email address by clicking on the activation link in the Welcome Letter that will be sent to you upon your submission of a completed registration form.

Premium Services

If you’d like access to one or more of our premium subscription-based services, you first must register as a member as described above, and then create a unique User Name and password. We also require billing and other specified information to that we need to activate your free trial or paid subscription.

 

Blogrums/Journals/Discussion

As a service to our users, we feature tools like Blogrums/Journals/Discussion where users with similar interests can share information and support one another or where users can post questions for experts to answer. In addition, we offer online discussions on a variety of topics moderated by educational experts. Information shared in such Blogrums/Journals/Discussion is accessible to the general public and may be viewed, disclosed to or collected by third parties that do not adhere to our Privacy Policy or that may use the information to send you unsolicited communications. In addition, we may retain this information as necessary to resolve disputes, provide customer support and troubleshoot problems as permitted by law. You should think carefully before disclosing any personal information in any public forum.

 

Surveys/Polls

At certain times, you may be asked to participate in surveys, which are generally aimed at obtaining general information, such as your reactions to a particular article or feature set on our site. Because information obtained in these surveys is connected with individual subscribers and is used internally to better market our services, participation is voluntary. In addition, some columnists will on occasion take polls of their readers. Such polls are for the editorial use of the individual columnists, and participation is voluntary. We do not assure privacy of information voluntarily provided in response to a survey or poll.


Contests and Sweepstakes

We sometimes offer contests or sweepstakes in which certain personal information is required for registration, for purposes of verifying the entrants’ identities and notifying the winners. If the contest or sweepstakes is being administered by a third party, this information will be disclosed to that third party. However, entrants may select contest names distinct from their User Names, and the information is not connected with their User Names.


Tracking Information

Tracking data consists of both individual and aggregated tracking information and is automatically gathered using “cookies.” A cookie is a small data file containing information, such as a user’s login name, that is written to the user’s hard drive by a web server and used to track the pages visited.

Our Tracking

We use cookies in several ways to track users’ navigation through our Websites. First, the information we gather on an individual basis is used for internal purposes only, such as accessing a Member Profile. We also use tracking information on an aggregate basis, to track the readership of stories and usage of our products, to analyze traffic patterns on the Websites, and to provide anonymous reporting of usage for internal and external clients. In all cases, our cookies are encoded and contain a unique digital signature to prevent tampering. They do not contain user passwords. We also employ technology that is commonly referred to as “action tags” (also known as “web beacons” or “one pixel .gif files”) to measure the effectiveness of our advertisements.You can control your browser’s settings regarding cookies by selecting “Internet Options” or “Preferences” in the menu bar of your browser. This will allow you to prevent your browser from accepting new cookies, have your browser notify you when you receive a new cookie, or disable cookies altogether. However, because cookies allow you to easily navigate our Websites without having to constantly log in using your User Name and password, we recommend that you leave them turned on.

Tracking by our contractors and agents

We use third-party online business optimization software to assist us in the capture and analysis of customer usage and tracking information. These service providers act as limited agents to us, for the purpose of providing their services. Any information obtained by such third parties from our users or us is and will remain our property, and will be subject to this privacy policy. We do not permit these service providers to review, share, distribute, print, or reference any session data of visitors to our Websites except as specified in our agreements with them or as may be required by law.

Tracking by our Advertisers

Our advertisers may include a wide variety of companies, such as financial services companies (e.g., brokerage firms, banks, and mortgage companies), computer manufacturers, software companies, automobile makers, toy manufacturers, and retail stores. Our advertisers and advertising vendors display targeted advertisements. Although we do not provide any personal information to the advertiser or advertising vendor, by interacting with or clicking on an ad you consent to the possibility that the advertiser will assume you meet the criteria used to target the add.In addition to cookies placed by us or our agents, as described above, advertisers and advertising vendors that serve ads onto our web sites may use their own cookies or other tracking technologies. We are not responsible for the privacy policies or practices of any such advertisers and vendors.

 

Use of the Information

We use personal information to enhance users’ experiences on our sites.

 

Free Newsletters (when available)

If you’re a registered member, we use your email address to send you free email newsletters containing selected editorial, educational content, advertisements and links to our sites. You can select which free newsletters you would like to receive or remove yourself from our free newsletter delivery list at any time by visiting your Member Profile page.

 

Premium Services (when available)

If you’re a subscriber, we use your email address, postal address or fax number, as applicable, to deliver our premium products and services. You can view your account information at any time by visiting your Member profile page.


Special Offers and Advertisements

We may from time to time send you special offers and advertisements for products or services offered by third parties. We will not disclose any of your personal information to such third parties when we do this. If you do not wish to receive third party offers and advertisements, please change your settings on your Member Profile page.

 

Disclosures of Information

We do not sell or disclose the personal information about you described above to nonaffiliated companies except to provide you with products or services, when we have your permission, or under the following circumstances: We provide personal information to nonaffiliated companies that we engage as contractors or agents to perform services for us, such as administering our Websites, systems and software; sending direct mail communications; or administering a sweepstakes or contest. Information will be shared with such contractors only to the extent reasonably necessary for them to perform services on our behalf, consistent with this privacy policy; In response to subpoenas, court orders, or legal process, from law enforcement agencies or state and federal regulators, or as otherwise required by law; To assert or defend our legal rights, including fraud prevention; To protect the rights, property, or safety of other persons; In connection with an actual or proposed corporate merger, acquisition, asset purchase, or other transaction or proceeding involving all or part of the business or assets to which the information pertains. Disclosures for Joint Marketing and Servicing: We may disclose all the information we collect as described above to other companies such as direct marketers to perform marketing services on our behalf, or other institutions with whom we have joint marketing agreements. We do not disclose personal information directly or indirectly to third parties for these third parties’ own marketing purposes.

 

Correcting and Updating Information

We offer members the ability to correct or update online certain information we collected during registration by visiting the Member Profile page.

 

Security

We limit access to personal information about you to those employees whom we determine need access to that information to provide products or services to you. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards that comply with industry standards to guard your personal information. However, no security system is impenetrable. We cannot guarantee the security of our servers, nor can we guarantee that information that users supply will not be intercepted while being transmitted to us over the Internet.

 

Changes in this Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post changes to this privacy policy.We reserve the right to modify this privacy policy at any time, so please review it before disclosing personal information on one of our Websites. If we make changes that materially affect our uses or disclosures of personally identifiable information that we have previously collected from you, we will provide a mechanism for you to opt out of the new use or disclosure.

 

Your Independent Relationship With Other Companies

Please note that this Privacy Policy will not apply to your independent relationships with other companies that from time to time may offer you products and services on the Websites. Those companies’ privacy policies will govern how they collect, use and disclose personal information that you provide to them.  Questions or comments regarding this policy should be directed to "feedback" via the onSponge Contact Us form.


Effective: 28 July 2008.