Web Sites Privacy Policy

Washington State Public Disclosure Act

This is a public domain web site. It is governed by the Public Disclosure Act (RCW 42.56.040-130) which makes this information, and any information you submit to this site, freely available for public inspection and copying.

Specifically, RCW 42.56.070(1) requires, "Each agency, in accordance with published rules, shall make available for public inspection and copying, all public records, unless the record falls within the specific exemptions of [RCW 42.56.070(6)], RCW 42.56.210, 42.56.320, or other statute which exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records."

Some of those exceptions that apply to our web site are noted below.

Public Records Exception: Credit & Debit Card Numbers

RCW 42.56.230(1) provides, the following are exempt from public inspection and copying: "Credit card numbers, debit card numbers, electronic check numbers, card expiration dates, or bank or other financial account numbers supplied to an agency for the purpose of electronic transfer of funds, except when disclosure is expressly required by law."

Therefore, we will keep confidential any financial information you provide to us to complete an online financial transaction. The fact that you purchased something from our agency using our web site is public information.

Our online credit card form automatically encrypts your confidential information in transit from your computer to ours using the Secure Sockets Layer protocol (SSL) with an encryption key length of 128-bits. Even before you register or log in to our site, our server checks that you're using an approved browser that uses SSL 3.0 or higher.

Once your information reaches us, it resides on a server that is heavily guarded both physically and electronically. Our servers sit behind an electronic firewall and are not directly connected to the Internet, so your private information is available only to authorized computers such as our credit-card-processing bank. Once your credit card transaction is processed and validated, your credit card information is deleted from our web servers.

Public Records Exception: Library Records Confidential

RCW 42.56.310 provides, the following is exempt from public inspection and copying: "Any library record, the primary purpose of which is to maintain control of library materials, or to gain access to information, which discloses or could be used to disclose the identity of a library user."

Therefore, we will keep confidential any information you provide to us to complete a user transaction at the Washington State Library. Such transactions include the online searching and ordering of materials or the referral of research questions for response by a librarian.

Elections Information Submitted Online

If you have a Washington State driver's license or a Washington State ID card, and are otherwise eligible to vote, you may register to vote online at: https://wei.sos.wa.gov/osos/secure/Pages/OnlineVoterRegistration.aspx

Once you register online, your name, address, date of birth, precinct, and voting frequency becomes a public record.  Political parties and candidates frequently use this information to contact voters. Your signature, driver’s license number, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number remain strictly confidential.

During the statutory filing period, candidates for certain public offices can file their Declaration of Candidacy online at: http://wei.sos.wa.gov/osos/en/candidateinfo/Pages/FilingforElectiveOffice.aspx

Once filed online, a Declaration of Candidacy becomes a matter of public record. Pursuant to RCW 42.56.230(4), credit and debit card numbers used to pay the filing fee online remain strictly confidential.

Corporations Division Filings

The information submitted in the online filings of Washington Profit and Non-Profit Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, and Professional Service Corporations is public information. While not required by law, some filers unnecessarily add confidential information such as their Social Security Number or bank account number – which we will redact from disclosure if discovered by our staff.

Social Media & Blogs

The Office of the Secretary of State uses several social media web sites and online blogs to civically and socially engage citizens and to guide them to enriched content posted on our official agency web site. These web sites include, but are not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Social media web sites are created and maintained by third parties who collect and use the personal information you decide to share. This information is stored on their computer servers which are not controlled by our agency.  This information may not be kept in perpetuity and may be deleted at anytime by third parties.

We have limited editorial control to add and delete content posted on social media web sites, which when deleted may still reside on third-party servers. This information is made available to the general public. Some social media web sites may require registration to gain access.

We endeavor to not conduct “official state business” on third-party social media web sites. “Official state business,” such as posting statutes, regulations, contracts, news releases, forms, and employment opportunities are posted and archived on our official agency web site located at: http://sos.wa.gov/

We maintain third-party social media web sites, and blogs on our official agency web site, with state resources.  Therefore, the content is moderated and edited to comply with various state statutes and regulations prohibiting the use of public resources for political campaigns, commercial gain. We also monitor content for libel and defamation. The information you submit may be deleted or modified to comply with these legal requirements without notice to you.

Confidential Information Subject to Disclosure in Legal Proceedings

We may be compelled to disclose information during the investigation of fraud or illegal activity, or during the course of civil litigation. For example, exempt records may be released upon service of a search warrant, subpoena duces tecum, or other lawful court order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction in Washington State.

Web Logs

Our computer server generates "traffic logs" which automatically collects the following information about visitors to our web site:

  • the Internet Protocol Address and domain name, but not the e-mail address, of visitors;
  • aggregate information about which pages consumers access or visit;
  • the web site you visited prior to coming to this site;
  • the date and time you visit the site;
  • the type of browser used by a visitor; and
  • the type of operating system you have (Windows vs. Mac).


The information we collect is used to improve the content of our web site and help us understand which pages are most popular and which need to be improved or eliminated. The webmaster analyzes our web site logs to continually improve the value of your surfing experience. Our web site logs are not personally identifiable, and we make no attempt to link them with the individuals that browse our web site.

In addition, we collect any information you choose to send to us via this web site:

  • the e-mail addresses and message of those who communicate with us via e-mail;
  • responses to feedback forms; and
  • responses to on-line surveys.


Your e-mail messages and form responses are helpful to the Secretary of State who desires to maintain and improve the quality of our web services. Your comments about this site help us to enhance the experience of our visitors.

Cookies

Our web site does use "persistant" and "session" cookies so you can complete online transactions without logging onto every page you must visit to successfully complete a business transaction; and to determine how users navigate throughout our web sites so we can improve it for future users.

Cookies are simple text files stored by your web browser. They provide a method of distinguishing among visitors to a web site, eliminating the need for passwords, customizing pages for better browser compatibility, and storing information from previous visits. You can set up your browser to warn you if a cookie is offered or to refuse the cookies altogether. You can delete cookie files from your computer by using your file manager or file explorer program.

Cookies do not compromise your privacy or security. Cookies store a randomly generated identifying tag on your computer. If you have further questions about cookies, the Computer Incident Advisory Capacity unit that monitors computer problems for the U.S. Department of Energy issued a study on March 12, 1998 of the risks to users of cookies, titled "Information Bulletin I-034: Internet Cookies."

External Links & Accuracy

This site contains numerous links to other web sites maintained by others and outside of the control of the Office of the Secretary of State. Portions of this website may not be current. Despite our penchant for accuracy, this website may also contain inadvertent errors. The machine translation of our web site into alternative languages is not 100% accurate. Neither the Office of Secretary of State, nor any division, program, employee, or consultant of this office warrants the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of any information published on this web site, nor endorses any products or services linked from this web site, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability or timeliness of such information. Any person or entity who relies on any information obtained from this web site does so at their own risk.

Public Domain & Copyright Information

This is a public domain web site. Most of the information on this site is not copyrighted. You may use, share or copy such information appearing on this site. Of course, it would be appropriate to give credit to the Office of the Secretary of State as the source of this information.

Our site may contain text, artwork, photos or other content that is copyrighted by others and is being used with the express permission of the copyright holder. Therefore, it is recommended that you contact our Webmaster or Communications Director for permission to use information contained on this site.

Website Accessibility

We use Bobby and other web accessibility software tools designed to help detect and repair barriers to accessibility and encourage compliance with existing accessibility guidelines such as U.S. Government Section 508 and World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Access Initiative (WAI).

We provide text alternatives for images and multi-media (such as audio, streaming video and Flash). While we use tables for layout purposes, we use accessible table tags for data tables where the format of the table conveys useful information.

Using the translation tool on the left-hand side of our Home Page,  all web pages can be machine-translated into 11 different languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. The default language is English unless an alternative language is selected. The machine translation of our web site into alternative languages is not 100% accurate. Geographic place names and the proper names of people often do not translate well from one language to another. Therefore, neither the Office of Secretary of State, nor any division, program, employee, or consultant of this office warrants the accuracy of machine translations. If you find inaccuracies, please contact our webmaster. If you need additional foreign language assistance, please call (360) 902-4151.

If you find parts of our website inaccessible for any reasons, please contact our Webmaster by e-mail at webmaster@sos.wa.gov, or by telephoning the phone number (or by writing to the address) that appears at the bottom of every web page. We will endeavor to provide our content to you in a usable alternative format.

For our speech and hearing impaired users, our Webmaster can receive TDD/TTY communications by dialing (800) 422-8683. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The special relay service numbers can only be used if you have the appropriate TDD/TTY equipment, a device equipped with a typewriter-style keyboard and operated through a standard telephone. For those customers who need to communicate with us, but do not have TDD/TTY equipment, your local phone company may provide a free relay service.

Children's Online Privacy Protection

Our web site is a general audience site with content appropriate for all age groups. We do not knowingly collect any personal information from children. We do not voluntarily publicly disclose, distribute or disseminate information received online or by email to third parties. Users are cautioned that any information volunteered by children online or by email may be subject to a public records request under the Public Disclosure and will be treated as if received from an adult.

Feedback

We can be reached via e-mail at webmaster@sos.wa.gov, by telephoning the phone number (or by writing to the address) that appears at the bottom of every web page or calling (800) 422-8683 for TDD/TTY communications.

This document was last updated August 07, 2009.