Web Server Log Files
Every visit to any page of the City of Vancouver website is automatically recorded in a log file created by the Web server operating software. These log entries record information about the visit that is used to understand how many visitors come to the site and how they use it. These log entries cannot be used to identify any individual person. All visits recorded in this way are anonymous.
Examples of the types of information automatically recorded include:
- The date and time of the visit.
- If the website was reached by using a link from another website, the name of the referring site is recorded.
- If the website was reached using Web search software, the word or phrase searched for is recorded.
- The type of computer operating system used.
- The type of Web browser software used.
- The Internet domain name each visitor uses. This is the name of the visitor’s Internet Service Provider.
- The Internet Protocol address (IP address) of the computer used to access the Web site. This number is needed by the Web server to send each page to the visitor who requested it.
The data collected in these log files is analyzed to extrapolate information about how visitors use the website. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Counting the number of visitors for a given time period.
- Measuring the average number of pages viewed during each visit.
- Measuring the average length of time each visit lasts.
- Identifying the most frequently visited pages.
- Understanding how visitors reach the site, and how they navigate within the site.
These analyses are used to generate reports on website traffic. The reports are distributed to City employees involved with publishing material on the website, so they may better understand how the site is used, and to make improvements.
The City of Vancouver website collects no personal information about visitors, unless the visitor voluntarily provides the information by sending an email or filling out a form online. Forms may be used for such purposes as:
- Surveys to gather public opinion on an issue.
- Registrations to receive information about an issue or City service.
- Requests for City services, or to report problems.
- Applications for employment, or for voluntary positions.
- Registration for City-sponsored activities or classes.
The voluntary personal information collected with online forms may include your name, address, telephone number, age, and income level. This information may be stored in a database, delivered to City employees via email, or both.
Applications for employment or volunteer positions submitted online may also include personal information about the applicant’s education, employment history, and personal references.
Online forms designed specifically to report problems with the Web site may automatically gather some information about the visitor’s computer, such as the operating system and browser software used. This information is important in assisting the employees who maintain the website and the server.
Emails sent to City departments, individual City employees, or elected City officials, automatically include the email address of the sender. Any personal information provided in an email will be treated in the same way as personal information submitted using an online form. Emails may be forwarded to the appropriate agency or City department for response or other action.
The City of Vancouver does not:
- Collect or sell information for commercial marketing
- Provide personal information to private organizations
- Share any personal information with other agencies or persons if prohibited by law. Some City projects involve collaboration with other local or State government agencies. Voluntary personal information submitted to the City of Vancouver to express interest in or make comments about such projects may be shared with the other agencies involved.
Responses to surveys, comments, and demographic information provided by visitors may be aggregated to produce statistical reports. These reports may be released to the public, and may include, without attribution, comments provided by site visitors.
The City of Vancouver does not require visitors to register or provide any personal information to be allowed to view pages within the City of Vancouver website. However, optional registration may be featured to provide Web content that is customized to meet the needs and interests of the individual visitor.
“Cookies” are small text files generated by the Web server and stored on a visitor’s computer. Cookies placed by a Web server can be read by the server at a latter time. The purpose of cookies is to help distinguish each visitor. A cookie might store information about when the visitor last accessed the website, or a marker that indicates a visitor had previously viewed a particular page. For example, if an online survey was conducted on the website, and the intention was that each visitor should only complete the survey once, a cookie might be created when the survey form is submitted to signify that the visitor has completed it.
Cookies stored on a visitor’s computer by the City of Vancouver website do not contain personal information. Cookies may contain an identification number that can be read by the Web server as part of a system to provide content that is customized for an individual visitor. An identifying number of this type would be stored only if the visitor requested customized content by completing an online registration form. For more information about cookies, visitors are advised to consult the documentation for their Web browser software.
The City of Vancouver strives to protect the information provided by site visitors. Some online forms are processed by a “secure server.” This is a technology that uses encryption to protect the information being transmitted from the visitor’s computer to the Web server. However, to enable this technology, the visitor must accept a “site certificate” sent by the City Web server. The site certificate is software that provides the visitor’s computer with an encryption key.
The City’s computer network infrastructure, including the Web server, email server, and databases, are protected against unauthorized access or tampering, from both the outside and from within the network. Internal security measures prevent access from City employees who are not authorized to change or view the information. Monitoring and anti-virus software is used to further protect the network and the information stored there. However, these measures should not be considered as fail proof, and the City of Vancouver cannot guarantee the security of information stored on its network.
Public Records and Disclosure
Personal information and emails submitted by the public to the City of Vancouver through the City’s website is retained in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington on the preservation and destruction of public records.
Visitors are cautioned that email or voluntary personal information submitted online by children will be treated the same as information given by an adult, and may be subject to public access.
Access and Correction of Personal Information
Visitors may review any personal information collected, and may recommend changes to information that is in error. To do so, submit a written request that shows the error, and provide contact information to enable the City to verify identity before granting access or making corrections. If a user of the City’s website believes that their personal information is being used for a purpose other than what was intended when submitted, please contact the City of Vancouver.