The policy pertains primarily to SMM members but also to non-members who participate in the various activities sponsored or conducted by the SMM. Those activities include —
- operation of several websites under domain names: www.marinemammalscience.org, marinemammalogy.org, www.smmconference.org, and www.smmconference.com;
- publication of the journal Marine Mammal Science in cooperation with John Wiley & Sons Inc., and through them, Clarivate Analytics (ScholarOne);
- organization of international biennial conferences; and
- conducting and sponsoring various other activities to promote scientific study and conservation of marine mammals around the world.
The policy describes the data that SMM collects as part of those activities, how the SMM uses those data, under what conditions it may share them, and how it protects them. It also explains how a member or participant in an SMM activity may access and update her/his data and make choices about how their data are used.
The security and confidentiality of members’ and users’ information is extremely important to the SMM and it takes a number of steps to safeguard any personally identifiable information provided to it. For example, the SMM uses data encryption technology (i.e., Secure Socket Layers, or SSLs) to help protect against loss, misuse or alteration of credit card information.
Personally Identifiable Information
Examples — If a SMM member or other person is interested in obtaining information, products, or services from the SMM, or in participating in certain activities on SMM websites (e.g., becoming a SMM member, subscribing to Marine Mammal Science, making an online donation to SMM, making an online purchase, or participating in voting, surveys, or certain special initiatives), attending SMM conferences or workshops, publishing in or reviewing for Marine Mammal Science, or applying for awards or scholarships, the SMM may request information about that member/person. For example —
- If someone becomes a member, subscribes to receive Marine Mammal Science, or registers for an SMM conference, SMM will ask for her/his name, postal address, email address, telephone number, and credit card number.
- If someone responds to an SMM survey or special initiative, she/he is considered to have consented to communication about that survey or special initiative.
- If someone orders a gift certificate for another person, SMM will ask for that other person’s name, email address, and phone number so that it can deliver the gift to the recipient.
Combining data — If someone participates in an SMM-related activity such as a applying for an SMM award or scholarship, SMM likely will request other types of non-personally identifiable information such as level of education, affiliation, and expertise. SMM also may associate that information with personally identifiable information, in which case the additional information becomes personally identifiable. In addition, SMM may combine personally identifiable information provided to it with information that is publicly available or that SMM has received or may seek from other reputable sources (e.g., John Wiley & Sons and their contractors).
Board/committee member data — SMM Board and committee members provide their personally identifiable contact information to the SMM with consent to share that information publicly on SMM websites and in SMM printed materials.
Non-personally Identifiable Information
Data types — Data that is not linked to a specific person (e.g., education, affiliation, expertise) is considered non-personally identifiable information. The SMM may collect such information through various sources and use such information for various analyses and descriptions and, generally, to make its websites and activities more informative and useful. As noted above, such information becomes personally identifiable if it is linked to other personally identifiable information.
Examples — When someone uses an SMM website, the site collects their Internet Protocol (“IP”) address. An IP address is often associated with the portal through which that person entered the Internet (e.g., their ISP or Internet Service Provider). By itself, an IP address is not personally identifiable. At times, the SMM will use IP addresses to collect information regarding the frequency with which website users visit various parts of those websites. To target the SMM website and communications to the interests of certain persons, the SMM may combine this information with personally identifiable information that those persons have provided to it with other information that is publicly available or that the SMM has received from other reputable sources.
Cookies — SMM websites also use “cookies.” Cookies are small text files that are stored on a user’s computer and allow websites to remember information about them. Cookies allow the SMM to personalize a user’s return visits to SMM websites and to save them time during certain activities, such as signing into an SMM website. SMM websites also use transient cookies (also called “session ID” cookies) to provide continuity from page to page. A session ID cookie expires when the user closes her/his browser. Users can choose to remove cookies through their browser options.
Technological tracking — SMM websites use a variety of technical tracking methods, including “clear gifs” (also known as “web beacons”). Clear gifs are small pieces of data that are embedded in images on the pages of web sites. SMM uses them to track the parts of a SMM website that a user has visited or to measure the effectiveness of a user’s searches on a SMM website. These technical methods may involve the transmission of information directly to the SMM or to a service provider authorized by the SMM to collect information on its behalf. The SMM also uses these technical methods in HTML emails sent to website visitors who have agreed to receive email from the SMM to determine whether the visitors have opened those emails and/or clicked on links in those emails. The SMM may combine the information gathered from use of these tracking methods with information that is personally identifiable for the purpose of making SMM websites more interesting and useful to users.
Information Selling, Exchanging, Sharing, and Use
Selling/exchanging data — The SMM does not sell or exchange its members’ names, addresses or contact information to any other organizations with the exception noted below.
The SMM may exchange its email lists with scientific societies (e.g., the European Cetacean Society) and organizations with which it has developed a formal relationship through a Letter of Agreement. Such an exchange would be for conference planning.
Sharing data — The SMM does share its membership data with outside consultants who provide the SMM technical conference management support. It does so with the understanding that the data will be used exclusively for the purpose of supporting the conference attendee’s experience at a specific conference and will not be shared or made visible to other individuals or organizations.
Data use — The SMM may use the personally identifiable information of a website user to deliver the products and services that said user requests, enhance their experience on an SMM website, or for internal analysis and other purposes described in or consistent with this policy.
Finally, the SMM may share its email lists with scientific societies (e.g., the European Cetacean Society) and organizations with which it has developed a formal relationship through a Letter of Agreement. Such an exchange would be for conference planning.
Member Access to Data
Current SMM members have exclusive access to a members-only membership directory. Members may control which part of their personal information is visible in the membership directory at any time by viewing and updating their profile here.
Members and users may communicate with SMM Board and committee members through a variety of methods, including email communication. Such communication may be essential if a member/user is interested in obtaining information, products, or services from the SMM, or in participating in certain activities on one of its websites (e.g., making an online purchase; reading Marine Mammal Science; becoming a SMM member; making an online donation to SMM; or participating in voting, surveys, or certain special initiatives). SMM’s quarterly newsletter is a member benefit and as such, members receive quarterly email communications from SMM, in addition to other SMM-related communications. Members/users can choose to discontinue all email communications by using the unsubscribe link in the emails they receive from the SMM. Upon unsubscribing from the SMM newsletter, members/users will be automatically unsubscribed from receiving further SMM communications.
Past Membership Data
The SMM retains past membership information in its database so that it can invite previous members to renew and alert previous conference attendees about upcoming SMM conferences. The SMM but does not make past membership information available or share it with other organizations or individuals.
To delete the personal information that the SMM has collected from them, members should contact the SMM at members[at]marinemammalscience.org. The SMM may still retain copies of that information for database backup files, but the information will not be used in any way other than as described here. The SMM has purged from its online database backup data collected prior to 2009.
When the SMM transmits personal information (e.g., name, email address, billing and physical address, and phone number) to SMM Committee and Board members, it states in its transmission message that such records may only be used for the intended purpose that will advance the SMM’s mission and serve the membership and are not to be retained, shared, or used in any other way.
Links to Other Websites
On its websites the SMM may provide links to other sites that it believes members and users will find useful or informative. Those sites operate independently of the SMM and have established their own privacy and security policies. The SMM encourages users to note when they leave an SMM website to go to another website and to read the privacy policies at any site they visit.
Changes in This Policy