External Privacy Policy Statement

The Secretary of State (SOS) is committed to promoting and protecting the privacy rights of individuals, as enumerated in Article 1 of the California Constitution, the Information Practices Act of 1977, and other state and federal laws.

It is the policy of the SOS to limit the collection and safeguard the privacy of personal information collected or maintained by the SOS. The SOS’s information management practices conform to the requirements of the Information Practices Act (Civil Code Sections 1798, et seq.), the Public Records Act (Government Code Sections 6250, et seq.), Government Code Sections 11015.5 and 11019.9, and other applicable laws pertaining to information privacy.

The SOS follows these principles in collecting and managing personal information:

  • We collect personal information on individuals only as allowed by law. We limit the collection of personal information to what is relevant and necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose of the SOS. For example, we may need to know someone's address, telephone number and social security number, among other things, to properly identify the person before issuing a Notary Commission. Personal information, as defined in the Information Practices Act, is information that identifies or describes an individual including, but not limited to, name, Social Security number, physical description, home address, home telephone number, education, financial matters, and medical or employment history.
  • We collect e-mail addresses to fulfill Subscription Requests. We use an individual’s email address to send them subscription materials, e.g. newsletters; they have elected to receive via Constant Contact. They may subscribe or unsubscribe at any time.  We will not give or sell email addresses to third parties.
  • We do not collect home, business, or account information from persons who simply browse our website. The SOS only collects personal information about individuals through our website if an individual provides such information to the SOS voluntarily.
  • We collect some information automatically when you visit our website. The information that the SOS automatically collects includes the domain name or Internet Protocol address that relates to the machine used to access the SOS's website, the type of browser and operating system used, the date and time when the website is visited and web pages displayed.
  • We use Google Analytics to help improve our website. The SOS uses Google Analytics to help understand how visitors interact with our website so that the site can be improved. You can read Google’s security and privacy policies for Google Analytics. You can choose not to have your data used by Google Analytics by downloading their opt-out browser add-on.
  • We use session cookies on our website. Whenever someone visits our website, a small piece of information called a cookie can be sent to their computer. The main purpose of a cookie is to identify and customize webpages for them. For example, cookies are used by some sites to greet you personally, to post a list of your favorite books to purchase, to remember what you had in your shopping basket the last time you visited.  We may place and later retrieve cookies that identify you and your computer to our website.  Cookies do not contain personal or confidential information about you and will only be used to monitor activity on our website.
  • We strive in each instance to tell people who provide personal information to the SOS the purpose for which the information is collected. At the time of collection, we also strive to tell persons who are asked to provide personal information about the general uses that we may make of that information.
  • We only use or disclose personal information for the specified purposes, or purposes consistent with those purposes, unless we get the consent of the subject of the information, or unless required by law or regulation or through a valid request from law enforcement. The Public Records Act exists to ensure that government is open and the public has a right to have access to appropriate records and information possessed by state government. At the same time, there are exceptions in both state and federal law to the public's right to access public records. These exceptions serve various needs including maintaining the privacy of individuals. In the event of a conflict between this Policy and the Public Records Act, the Information Practices Act or other law governing the disclosure of records, the applicable law will control.
  • We use information security safeguards. We take reasonable precautions to protect the personal information collected or maintained by the SOS against loss, unauthorized access, and illegal use or disclosure. The SOS uses encryption to protect the security of individuals' personal information during transmission of such information through the SOS's Website. Such personal information is stored by the SOS in secure locations. The SOS's staff is trained on procedures for the management of personal information, including limitations on the release of information. Access to personal information is limited to those members of the SOS’s staff whose work requires such access. Confidential information is destroyed according to the Office's records retention schedule. The SOS conducts training sessions to ensure that proper information management policies and procedures are understood and followed. The SOS requires all individuals to use appropriate safeguards and to follow secure computing practices.

Please note that our Privacy Policy reflects the SOS's current business practices and is subject to change without notice.

If you have questions or would like additional information regarding the SOS's privacy policy, you may email us at Agency.InfoSecOfficer@sos.ca.gov.