The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) is committed to ensuring the privacy and accuracy of your confidential information. UT Austin does not actively share personal information gathered from its web servers. However, because UT Austin is a public institution, some information collected from UT Austin websites, including the summary server log information, e-mails sent to websites, and information collected from online forms, may be subject to the Texas Public Information Act.
This means that while UT Austin does not actively share information, in some cases may be compelled by law to release information gathered from its web servers. As part of its commitment to maintain the privacy of its web users, UT Austin has developed this privacy statement. The statement has two purposes:
1. To educate users about privacy issues
2. To inform users about specific privacy policies and guidelines employed at UT Austin
UT Austin also complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which prohibits the release of education records without student permission. Although FERPA regulations apply only to UT Austin students, the university is equally committed to protecting the privacy of all visitors to our website. Technical terms referred to in this document are defined in the ISO Technical and Security Glossary.
UT Austin web consists of hundreds of web servers. Some servers hosted by UT Austin may adopt different privacy statements as their specific needs require. If a UT Austin department has a privacy statement that is different from this statement, that policy must be approved by the Information Security Office, and it must be posted on this site. However, those sites cannot adopt a privacy statement that in any way supersedes federal or state regulations. Approved Departmental Privacy Policies at UT Austin:
• Computer Science Department
• Applied Research Laboratories
The UT Austin website contains links to hundreds of external websites. The university is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of the external websites.
Information Gathered by UT Austin
UT Austin web servers generate temporary logs that may contain the following information:
• Internet address (IP address) of a computer being used
• Web pages requested
• Referring web page
• Browser used
• Date and time
• UIN (unique person identifier for EID-based services only)
The data is used in aggregate by IT custodians to tune the website for its efficiency and is not ordinarily associated with specific individuals. Raw data from the Web server logs is only shared with the custodian of each website. Summary reports produced from the logs help web publishers determine what Web browsers and pages are most popular. For example, if the aggregate reports show a particular Web page is very popular or used more by freshmen than by seniors, publishers might use this information to customize the content of that page and make it easier to find.
Some pages within the utexas.edu domain may contain content that is served from external third parties. For example, a utexas.edu website might include a graphic logo or a script from a third party. Specifically, the following code within a utexas.edu page would represent an example of third party content: <img src=”http://www.other-org.com/logo.gif” alt=”Sample” />. In this example, logo.gif would be third party content served from a web server outside the utexas.edu domain (www.other-org.com in this case). Third party content in utexas.edu is not limited to graphics, but this is the most frequent use.
UT Austin does not transmit any information to these third parties as part of such requests. However, when you visit utexas.edu pages that contain third party content, information such as your IP address, date, browser, and requested page are transmitted from your computer to that third party. UT Austin is not responsible for the privacy practices of these external third parties.
Cookies are small pieces of data stored by the web browser. Cookies are often used to remember information about preferences and pages you have visited. For example, when you visit some sites on the web you might see a “Welcome Back” message. The first time you visited the site a cookie was probably set on your computer; when you return, the cookie is read again. You can configure your web browser to refuse to accept cookies, to disable cookies, and to remove cookies from your hard drive as needed.
Security and Accuracy of Confidential Information
UT Austin does its best to ensure that the personal information we have about you is accurate. Users with a UT EID can check and update personal information such as their address and e-mail address at UT Direct.
Although no computer system is 100% secure, the UT Austin has deployed extensive security measures to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information under our control. These security measures and our systems are audited by certified independent security specialists.
Several sites within UT Austin enable you to pay for products or services online with a credit card. Unless otherwise noted, these transactions are encrypted. It is university policy that confidential information you enter in the transaction is used only for the purposes described in that transaction, unless an additional use is specifically stated on that site.
Sharing of Information
UT Austin does, upon explicit request of users, share information with other parties and gather information from other private data providers. For example, the university receives test scores from testing agencies and will send transcripts to other schools. This is done only at the request of users (persons to whom the information applies). Unless specifically required under public information requests filed under the Texas Public Information Act, it is against university policy to release confidential information gathered through the web, such as pages visited, or personalized preferences. For example, the university’s portal, UT Direct, enables users to customize the content they see on their personal page. This information cannot be shared with external third parties.
Consistent with FERPA, we do not release personal student information, other than public directory information, to other parties unless we receive explicit written authorization to do so. UT Austin students can read more about directory information in the university’s General Information Catalog. Examples of directory information include first and last name, address, and date of birth. Enrolled students can restrict release of their directory information by contacting the Office of the Registrar.
UT Austin makes some public chat rooms, forums, message boards, and news groups available to its users. The university does not ordinarily log public chat sessions, however, any information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should therefore exercise caution when deciding to disclose your confidential information in such places. Academic chat sessions and discussion forums, such as those in Blackboard, may be logged. However, these educational records are protected from disclosure by FERPA.
UT Austin is a research institution. At any time there are numerous online surveys being conducted on the university’s website. It is university policy that confidential information gathered in these online surveys is used only for the research purposes indicated in the survey. Unless otherwise noted on the specified survey, your answers are confidential and individual responses will not be shared with other parties unless required by the Texas Public Information Act. Aggregate data from surveys may be shared with external third parties.
Open Records Requests
Except for educational records governed by FERPA, all information collected from the UT Austin website, including the summary server log information, e-mails sent to the website, and information collected from online forms, may be subject to the Texas Public Information Act.
Texas Public Information Act
The Texas Public Information Act, with a few exceptions, gives you the right to be informed about the information that UT Austin collects about you. It also gives you the right to request a copy of that information, and to have the university correct any of that information that is wrong. You may request to receive and review any of that information, or request corrections to it, by contacting the university’s Public Information Officer, Office of Financial Affairs, PO Box 8179, Austin, Texas, 78713 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you have questions about this privacy statement or you believe that your personal information has been released without your consent send an e-mail to email@example.com.
The authoritative source on this policy and responsibility for its implementation rests with the Chief Information Officer.