This Privacy Statement describes why and how the Smithsonian collects, stores, uses and shares personal data collected in connection with the Smithsonian’s philanthropic and revenue generating activities, which includes the Smithsonian Store and catalog, travel, publishing, or other commercial activities, as well as its fundraising activities (the “Activities”). Note that this Privacy Statement does not cover the data collection practices of our individual museums. The Smithsonian Institution’s practices regarding personal information (also referred to as personally identifiable information) generally is addressed in the Smithsonian Institution Privacy Statement. We collect such data in various ways, including data you provide to us, data we collect by automated means, and data we collect from other sources.
What Personal Information Do We Collect
Information You Provide to Us
When you participate in the Activities, you may be asked to provide information about yourself to us, including:
- Your name
- Your email and mailing address
- Your phone number
- Your payment information, which we will use to process your orders or donations
- Your preferences and interests in Smithsonian’s offerings.
The following are examples of when you may give your personal information to us:
- If you place an order with us for yourself or as a gift
- If someone ordered a gift from Smithsonian for you
- If you join one of our membership programs, and/or receive our magazine(s)
- If you participate in a survey, study, contest, or promotions, or share articles
- If you register with us, sign up for an email newsletter, or request a catalog or brochure
- If you donate or participate in fundraising activities
Information Collected and Stored Automatically
The Smithsonian uses online analytics tools such as Google Analytics, WebTrends, etc., to collect and track information about your visit so that the Smithsonian can monitor usage and make improvements. These tools may store your IP address from which you access our Website. The Smithsonian also collects the following data elements in aggregate form:
- The name of the domain from which you access the Internet (for example, gmail.com, if you are connecting from a Google Online account)
- The type of device, browser, and operating system used to access our Website
- The date and time you access our site
- The length of your visit
- The location from which you access our site (approximate country, state, city and postal code based on Google Analytics data)
- The pages, files, documents, and links that you visit and engage with
- The domain of the website which referred you to this website (the last website you visited before visiting this one)
Additionally, to better understand our customers and supporters, we may ask that you share additional information about you or your experience (such as, your city or state, age); your participation would be voluntary and, unless specifically stated otherwise in the request, the information you provide will not be connected with your personally identifiable information.
When you access or interact with the Smithsonian through a social media service such as Facebook or Instagram, we may have visibility to your profile name and other information you have made public in connection with that particular social media service. The social media companies may collect and share anonymous aggregate metrics with us regarding use, such as the total number of clicks, shares, users’ demographics (e.g., age range, gender, location). These social media companies are not operated by the Smithsonian; use of their services is governed by the privacy policies of the social media companies.
How We Use and Disclose Personal Information
The Smithsonian may use and disclose information collected for various revenue-generating and fundraising purposes, including:
- To process, track, and manage products and/or services you request
- To communicate with you about the content and/or services you may be interested in through content and advertisements on our Websites, mail, email, advertising networks, and social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Google
- To manage your account, deliver services you request, and to improve and enhance our services
- To provide you with special offers, promotions and information from across the Institution, and select third parties in accordance with applicable law
- To respond to your inquiries or comments
- To contact you about changes to services
- To allow social media sharing
- To perform internal analysis in order to improve Smithsonian operations and business practices
- To protect the legal rights and obligations of the Smithsonian and others
- To help determine how parts of our websites are used in order to optimize site performance
- To inform third parties about our users’ aggregate demographics, advertising impressions or how they collectively use our Websites
Please note that if you donate or purchase a Smithsonian product or service, you may receive transactional communications. You also may be offered an opportunity to receive additional information and promotions.
The Smithsonian uses outside vendors to provide certain services, such as companies that process credit card transactions for the Smithsonian. These third-party vendors will have access to the information needed to perform their functions but may not use your information for any other purpose. Examples include:
- E-mail acquisition and distribution
- Order fulfillment and shipping
- Ticket fulfillment
- Marketing and advertising
- Travel tourism
- Printing and mailing
- Data Storage
- Payment processing
- Fraud prevention
The Smithsonian may collect personal data about you from unaffiliated sources with whom we contract, such as product and service providers and data aggregators, as well as from public sources or databases. We may obtain data such as your name, postal address, telephone number, demographic data (such as age, gender, income level, and purchasing profiles). We generally use such data to identify potential customers or subscribers, or to update personal data we already have about existing customers or subscribers (such as an address update), or to enhance our data models.
The Smithsonian may occasionally share, exchange, or rent information which may include your name, address, email address, demographic data (such as age, gender, income level, and purchasing profiles) and purchasing behavior with carefully selected third-party organizations including our outside vendors, marketers of products and services potentially of interest to you, and cooperative database services in the publishing, catalog, and fund¬raising industries. We use cooperative database services primarily to identify potential subscribers and customers.
Please note that the Smithsonian also may provide your information to: (1) a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency if the Smithsonian becomes aware of a violation or potential violation of law or regulation; (2) a court or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the Smithsonian is a party or in order to comply with a subpoena; (3) the Department of Justice or in certain legal proceedings when the Smithsonian, an employee of the Smithsonian, or the United States is a party to litigation or has an interest in the litigation and the use of such records is deemed relevant and necessary to the litigation; (4) Smithsonian officials, including the Inspector General, as needed to perform official duties; (5) a Committee of Congress in response to a formal request; (6) protect the security or integrity of the Smithsonian Websites and services; and (7) any other person or entity as required by law.
For European Residents – Our Lawful Basis for Processing Personal Information
We are based in the United States, and your personal information may be processed on servers located in the United States, where the data protection laws may be different from the laws in your country. Standard contractual clauses (SCCs) are written commitments between parties that can be used as a ground for data transfers from the EU to third countries by providing appropriate data protection safeguards. SCCs have been approved by the European Commission and can’t be modified by the parties using them. Such clauses have also been approved for transfers of data to countries outside the UK and Switzerland. We rely on SCCs for our data transfers where required. The approved SCCs that we use can be found online.
Further, the Smithsonian is a controller of personal information and appropriately processes personal information about Europeans in accordance with the lawful bases and purposes specified below.
For revenue generating activities only, we obtain your consent to use your personal information to:
- communicate with you about the content and/or services you may be interested in through content and advertisements on our Websites, mail, email, advertising networks, and social platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Google
- provide you with special offers, promotions and information from across the Institution and select third parties in accordance with applicable law
We rely on our contractual obligations to you to use your personal information to:
- process, track, and manage products and/or services you request
- manage your account
We rely on our need to comply with our legal obligations to use your personal information to:
- protect the legal rights and obligations of the Smithsonian and others
We rely on our legitimate interests in providing and improving our services to use your personal information to:
- improve and enhance our services
- respond to your inquiries or comments
- contact you about changes to services to perform internal analysis in order to improve Smithsonian operations and business practices
- help determine how parts of its websites are used in order to optimize site performance
- inform third parties about our users’ aggregate demographics or how they collectively use our Websites
- provide information about how many advertising impressions were delivered on a campaign
Tools to exercise your privacy rights can be found in the Opt-out and User Control section below. You also have the right to raise concerns with your supervisory authority.
Location of Your Data
We are based in the United States and your personal information maintain may be processed on servers located in the United States, where the data protection laws may be different from the laws in your country.
For California Residents
The Smithsonian is a trust instrumentality of the United States, having nonprofit status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. As a best practice, we provide the below notice about our collection of personal information, as would a “business” under California law:
We collect the following categories of personal information when you participate in the Activities: identifiers/contact information, payment card information, Internet or other electronic network activity information, and inferences drawn from the above. For more information on the information we collected, please review the What Personal Information Do We Collect? section of this Privacy Statement.
The sources of personal information from whom we collected are: directly from you, analytics tools, social networks, and other vendors providing services on our behalf. We collect and use this information so that we can best serve you including to fulfil your requests and share offers we think you should be interested in. For more information on how we use your information and who we share it with , please review the How We Use and Disclose Personal Information section of this Privacy Statement.
As the term is defined by the CCPA, we “sold” the following categories of personal information in the last 12 months: Internet or other electronic network activity information. We do not “sell” personal information of known minors under 1 years of age.
California residents also have the right to “opt out” of the “sale” of their “personal information” to “third parties”. Information on how to exercise your rights is listed below under Opt-Out and User Control.
Opt-Out and User Control
Customers may opt out of regular mailings and rental/exchange of files through contacting customer service for the relevant service. For each Smithsonian service, customs service contact options may include phone, web, and email. Check the website of the relevant service for contact information. Customers can change their email communication preferences by using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email or contacting customer service for the relevant service.
You also have the right to:
- access your personal information, including information about the information we collect from you
- request that we delete your personal information
- request that we correct your personal information
- withdraw your consent
- restrict our use of your personal information
- opt-out of the sale of your personal information
If you would like to exercise your rights, please click or email the following:
If you are a customer of Smithsonian’s Journeys:
If you are a customer of the Smithsonian Store:
If you are a subscriber to the Smithsonian Magazine:
If you participate in philanthropic activities:
For all other visitors:
We will need to verify that you are who you say you are before we delete or share personal information with you. As such, you may need to provide us with documentation of your identity.
Behavioral Advertising: Your Ad Choices
In order to provide a more relevant online experience, some of the ads that you see on our sites and other sites and digital applications are customized based on your previous online activity on our sites and other sites. The information may be used to predict your interest in future ads related to your interests. The advertising practice is called interest based advertising (IBA). By presenting ads relevant to your interests, we hope to enhance your experience on our websites. You may learn more about online advertising, including IBA, at www.aboutads.info/consumers.
What choices do I have about online behavioral advertising from Smithsonian Enterprises websites?
You can opt out from receiving ads relevant to your interests from "third parties" that participate in the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) program and are identified on their opt-out page. If you elect to opt out of IBA, you will still receive the same number of ads as before, but they may not be as relevant to you. Opting- out is cookie-based and will only affect the specific computer and browser on which the opt out is applied. If you delete your browser cookies and want to continue to be opted out of interest-based ads, you will need to opt out again.
How can I learn more?
Learn more about the DAA Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising from www.AboutAds.info. Learn more about online advertising from the Network Advertising Initiative at www.networkadvertising.org/. Learn more from the Interactive Advertising Bureau at http://www.iab.net/privacymatters/, including how to manage cookies using your browser controls.
We will retain your information for the period necessary to fulfill the purposes outlined in this Privacy Statement unless a longer retention period is required or allowed by law.
Remember that even after you cancel your account, or if you ask us to delete your personal information, copies of some information from your account may remain viewable in some circumstances where, for example, you have shared information with social media or other services. Because of the nature of caching technology, your account may not be instantly inaccessible to others. We may also retain backup information related to your account on our servers for some time after cancellation or your request for deletion, for fraud detection or to comply with applicable law or our internal security or recordkeeping policies. It may not always be possible to completely remove or delete all of your information due to technical constraints or, contractual, financial or legal requirements.
Children and Privacy
The Smithsonian’s Websites are intended to be accessible and enjoyed by general audiences. We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 13, without first providing the parent or legal guardian with notice and obtaining prior verifiable consent. If a visitor known to be a child sends an email to the Smithsonian, we will only use it to respond to the writer and not to create profiles or otherwise retain the information. Where a Smithsonian Website is specifically directed toward children under the age of 13, the terms of the Smithsonian’s Kids Online Privacy (“SKOP”) Statement will apply and the Website will include a link to the SKOP. If a parent or guardian believes their child’s personally identifiable information was inadvertently collected, please contact SmithsonianPrivacyOffice@si.edu.
The Smithsonian takes reasonable steps to design and manage our Websites’ technology to ensure that its information technology systems, applications, and information technology infrastructure are secure. When you use your credit card for any purchase or donation on a Smithsonian Website, that transaction is encrypted using “Transport Layer Security (TLS)” encryption to protect your credit card information when traveling over the Internet. Further, we require credit card processing be secured based on compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.
Questions and comments about this Privacy Statement may be directed to us via mail at Smithsonian Privacy Office, 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW, Washington, DC 20013 or email SmithsonianPrivacyOffice@si.edu. The Smithsonian Institution is a large organization with many people sharing responsibility for the content of its Websites. Please help us respond to your comments and inquiries by sending them to the appropriate Smithsonian office. In order to help you contact the appropriate Smithsonian office, please consult our list of contacts at www.si.edu/contacts.
Last revised: March 3, 2022