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 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. For your convenience a link to Google’s security and privacy policies is provided. 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. However, the SOS must adhere to the Public Records Act which 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.
For E-Updates information, we collect e-mail addresses to fulfill subscription requests. We use an individual’s email address to send them subscription materials (e.g. newsletters) that they have elected to receive via Constant Contact. They may subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. We will not give or sell these email addresses to third parties.
Voter Registration Information
For online voter registration, you will need to provide personal information. This information may include, but is not limited to: social security number, California driver’s license number, first and last name, date of birth, home address, telephone number, and email address.
The voter registration rolls (lists of registered voters) are not available to the general public. However, California law allows certain voter information to be released to a member of the California Legislature or U.S. Congress, or to any candidate, any committee for or against a proposed ballot measure, any person for election, scholarly, journalistic, or political purpose, or for governmental purposes. Even in these cases, your social security number, driver license number, and signature will remain confidential.
Filings and information contained in filings you submit to the Secretary of State are public record, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing and street addresses, except as provided in statutes. To avoid issues related to identity theft you should avoid using and submitting confidential information in public filings unless specifically required by statute. The public can view information and download documents contained in the Secretary of State’s electronic records using digital search tools and information posted on the Secretary of State’s website. Also, please note that individuals and private companies use this public information to create third party access to these records.
Protecting Your Privacy
You can help protect your private information. Be sure to update your browser and operating system regularly. For more information on how you can protect your privacy, visit the Privacy Enforcement and Protection page on the Office of the Attorney General website.
Public Records Act
Any information we acquire, including information collected on our website, may be released if requested as stated in the Information Practices Act of 1977 (see Civil Code Section 1798).
Electronically collected personal identifiable information is exempt from disclosure when requested under the California Public Records Act (see Government Code Section 6250).
Links to other websites