This first draft was motivated by four principles:
Your feedback on this draft is important to us. The Wikimedia projects are made by you and for you; your voice is the most important one. We look forward to your active and vital participation in this discussion. Only with your involvement can we create a final draft that truly reflects Wikimedia community values. After the consultation period, we intend to finalize the draft and present it to the WMF Board of Trustees for its consideration.
The Wikimedia movement is founded on a simple, but powerful principle: we can do more together than any of us can do alone. Gathering, sharing, and understanding information is what built the Wikimedia Sites. Continuing to do so in novel ways helps us learn how to make them better.
We believe that you shouldn’t have to provide personal information to participate in the free knowledge movement. You do not have to provide things like your real name, address, or date of birth to sign up for a standard account or contribute content to the Wikimedia Sites.
We do not sell or rent your information, nor do we use it to sell you anything. We use it to figure out how to make the Wikimedia Sites more engaging and accessible, to see which ideas work, and to make learning and contributing more fun. Put simply: we use this information to make the Wikimedia Sites better for you.
After all, it’s people like you, the champions of free knowledge, who make it possible for the Wikimedia Sites to not only exist, but grow and thrive.
A Little Background
Because everyone (not just lawyers) should be able to easily understand how and why their information is collected and used, we use common language instead of more formal terms. Here is a table of translations:
|When we say…||…we mean:|
|"the Wikimedia Foundation" / "the Foundation" / "we" / "us" / "our"||The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., the non-profit organization that operates the Wikimedia Sites.|
|"you" / "your" / "me"||You, regardless of whether you are an individual, group, or organization, and regardless of whether you are using the Wikimedia Sites or our services on behalf of yourself or someone else.|
|"contributions"||Content you add or changes you make to any Wikimedia Sites.|
|"Personal information"||Information you provide us or information we collect that could be used to personally identify you. To be clear, while we do not necessarily collect all of the following types of information, we consider at least the following to be "personal information" if it is otherwise nonpublic and can be used to identify you:
|"third party" / "third parties"||Individuals, entities, websites, services, products, and applications that are not controlled, managed, or operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. This includes other Wikimedia users and independent organizations or groups who help promote the Wikimedia movement such as Wikimedia chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups as well as volunteers, employees, directors, officers, grant recipients, and contractors of those organizations or groups.|
We also recognize that some of you know the ins and outs of tracking pixels while others associate the term “cookie” exclusively with the chocolate variety. Whether you are brand new to privacy terminology or you are an expert who just wants a refresher, you might find our Glossary of Key Terms helpful.
Sometimes, volunteers may place a data-collecting tool, such as a script, gadget, tracking pixel, or share button, on a Wikimedia Site without our knowledge. This Policy does not cover how third parties handle the information they receive as a result of such a tool. If you come across such a third-party tool, and you believe it violates this Policy, you can remove the tool yourself, or report it to privacy[at]wikimedia.org so we can investigate.
Types of Information We Receive From You, How We Get It, and How We Use It
Your Public Contributions
The Wikimedia Sites were primarily created to help you share your knowledge with the world, and we share your contributions because you have asked us to do so.
When you make a contribution to any Wikimedia Site, including on user or discussion pages, you are creating a permanent, public record of every piece of content added, removed, or altered by you. Your contribution (even if you just removed something) will show when it was made and your username (if you are signed in) or your IP address (if you are not signed in). We may use your public contributions, either aggregated with the public contributions of others or individually, to create new features or data-related products for you or to learn more about how the Wikimedia Sites are used.
Unless this Policy says otherwise, you should assume that information that you actively contribute on the Wikimedia Sites, including personal information, is publicly visible and can be found by search engines. Like most things on the Internet, anything you share may be copied and redistributed throughout the Internet by other people. Please do not contribute any information that you are uncomfortable making permanently public, like the picture of you in that terrible outfit your mom forced you to wear when you were eight.
Account Information & Registration
Want to create an account? Great! Don’t want to create an account? No problem! You are not required to create an account to read or contribute to a Wikimedia Site. However, if you contribute without signing in, your contribution will be publicly attributed to the IP address associated with your device. If you want to create a standard account, we do not require you to submit any personal information to do so. Really. No name, no email address, no date of birth, no credit card information, nothing. Just a username that you make up and a password. Your username will be publicly visible, so please think carefully before you use your real name as your username. Your password is only used to verify that the account is yours.
Once created, user accounts cannot be removed entirely (although you may delete the information in your user profile). This is because your public contributions must be associated with their author (you!). So make sure you don’t pick a name that will haunt you for years to come. We’re looking at you, ericsgrl4evah.
To gain a better understanding of the demographics of our users, localization purposes, and how we can improve our services, we may ask you for more demographic information about yourself, such as gender or age. We will tell you if such information is intended to be public or private, so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to provide us with that information. Providing such information is always completely optional. If you don't want to, you don't have to - as simple as that.
Information Related to Your Use of the Wikimedia Sites
We want to make the Wikimedia Sites better for you by learning more about how you use them. Examples of this might include how often you visit the Wikimedia Sites, what you like, what you find helpful, how you get to the Wikimedia Sites, and whether you would use a helpful feature more if we explained it differently. We also want this Policy and our practices to reflect our community’s values. We keep information related to your use of the Wikimedia Sites confidential, except as provided in this Policy.
Information We Receive Automatically
Because of how browsers work and similar to other major websites, we receive some information automatically when you visit the Wikimedia Sites. This information includes the type of device you are using (possibly including unique device identification numbers), the type and version of your browser, your browser’s language preference, the type and version of your device’s operating system, in some cases the name of your internet service provider or mobile carrier, the website that referred you to the Wikimedia Sites and the website you exited the Wikimedia Sites from, which pages you request and visit, and the date and time of each request you make to the Wikimedia Sites.
Put simply, we use this information to enhance your experience with Wikimedia Sites. For example, we use this information to administer the sites, provide greater security, and fight vandalism; optimize mobile applications, customize content and set language preferences, test features to see what works, and improve performance; understand how users interact with the Wikimedia Sites, track and study use of various features, gain understanding about the demographics of the different Wikimedia Sites, and analyze trends.
Information We Collect
We use this information to make your experience with the Wikimedia Sites safer and better, to gain a greater understanding of user preferences and how users interact with the Wikimedia Sites, and to generally improve our services. We will never use third-party cookies, unless we get your permission to do so. If you ever come across a third-party data collection tool that has not been authorized by you (such as one that may have been mistakenly placed by another user or administrator), please report it to us at privacy[at]wikimedia.org.
- Provide you with a personalized experience, such as using cookies to know your language preference, to remember the user preferences you set so we can provide you with the customized look and feel that you want, and to tell you about interesting Wikimedia issues and events in your area.
- Deliver more relevant content to you faster. For example, by using local storage to store your most recently read articles directly on your device so it can be retrieved quickly; and by using cookies, we can learn about the topics searched so that we can optimize the search results we deliver to you.
- Understand how you use the Wikimedia Sites across different devices, so that we can make our varied Wikimedia Sites more efficient and effective for you.
- Make the Wikimedia Sites more convenient to use, such as by using cookies to maintain your session when you log in or remembering your username in the login field.
Want to know even more? You can read more about some of the specific cookies we use, when they expire, and what we use them for in our FAQ. We believe this data collection helps improve your user experience, but you may remove or disable some or all locally stored data through your browser settings, depending on your browser. Learn more about some options you have. While removing or disabling our locally stored data does not cause lasers to shoot out of your device, some features may not function properly if you do.
You have the option of providing an email address when you register. If you do so, your email address is kept confidential, except as provided in this Policy. We do not sell, rent, or use it to advertise to you.
We use your email address to let you know about things that are happening with the Foundation, the Wikimedia Sites, or the Wikimedia movement, such as telling you important information about your account, letting you know if something is changing about the Wikimedia Sites or policies, and alerting you when there has been a change to an article that you have decided to follow. Please note that if you email us, we may keep your message, email address, and any other information you provide us, so that we can process and respond to your request.
You can choose to limit some of these kinds of notifications, like those alerting you if an article changes. Others, such as those containing critical information that all users need to know to participate successfully in the Wikimedia Sites, you may not be able to opt out of. You can manage what kinds of notifications you receive and how often you receive them by going to your Notifications Preferences. Learn more about email and notifications and how to change your preferences. We will never ask for your password by email (but may send you a temporary password via email if you have requested a password reset). If you ever receive such an email, please let us know by sending it to privacy[at]wikimedia.org, so we can pursue the evil wizard who is impersonating us.
Surveys and Feedback
If you choose to help us make the Wikimedia Sites better by participating in an optional survey or providing feedback, we think you are awesome. Because every survey and request for feedback may be used for various purposes, we will tell you, at the time we give you the survey or request for feedback, how we plan on using your answers and any personal information you provide. If you don’t feel comfortable with how we plan on using the survey or feedback results, don’t take the survey or give feedback. You’re still awesome.
GPS & Other Location Technologies
Some features we offer are way cooler to use if we know what area you are in. But it’s completely up to you whether or not you want us to use geolocation tools to make some features available to you. If you consent, we can use GPS (and other technologies commonly used to determine location) to show you more relevant content. We keep information obtained by these technologies confidential, except as provided in this Policy. You can learn more by checking out our list of examples of how we use these technologies .
Sometimes, we may automatically receive location data from your device. For example, if you want to upload a photo on the Wikimedia Commons mobile app, we may receive metadata, such as the place and time you took the photo, automatically from your device. Please be aware that, unlike location information collected using GPS signals described above, the default setting on your mobile device typically includes the metadata in your photo or video upload to the Wikimedia Sites. If you do not want metadata sent to us and made public at the time of your upload, please change your settings on your device.
Finally, when you visit any of Wikimedia Sites, we automatically receive the IP address of your device (or your proxy server) you are using to access the Internet, which could be used to infer your geographical location. We keep IP addresses confidential, except as provided in this policy. For example, if you make a contribution without signing into your account, your IP address will be publicly and permanently recorded. If you are visiting Wikimedia Sites with your mobile device, we may use your IP address to provide anonymized or aggregated information to service providers regarding the volume of usage in certain areas. We use IP addresses for research and analytics; to better personalize content, notices, and settings for you; to fight spam, identity theft, malware, and other kinds of abuse; and to provide better mobile and other applications.
With Your Permission
We may share you information for a particular purpose, if you agree. You can find more information in our list of examples.
For Legal Reasons
We may access, preserve, or disclose your personal information if we reasonably believe it necessary to satisfy a valid and legally enforceable warrant, subpoena, court order, law or regulation, or other judicial or administrative order. However, if we believe that a particular request for disclosure of your information is legally invalid or an abuse of the legal system and the affected user does not intend on opposing the disclosure themselves, we will try our best to fight it. We are committed to notifying you via email within five (5) business days, when possible, if we receive a legal request for disclosure of your information, assuming that we are not legally restrained from contacting you, there is no credible threat to life or limb that is created or increased by disclosing the request, and you have provided us with an email address.
Find more information, see our subpoena response page.
If the Organization is Transferred (Really Unlikely!)
To Protect You, Ourselves, and Others
Wikimedia Sites are collaborative, with users writing most of the policies and selecting from amongst themselves people to hold certain administrative rights. These rights may include access to limited amounts of otherwise nonpublic information about recent contributions and activity by other users. They use this access to help protect against vandalism and abuse, fight harassment of other users, and generally try to minimize disruptive behavior on the Wikimedia Sites. These various user-selected administrative groups that have their own privacy and confidentiality guidelines, but all such groups are supposed to agree to follow our Access to Nonpublic Information Policy. These user-selected administrative groups are accountable to other users through checks and balances: users are selected through a community-driven process and overseen by their peers through a logged history of their actions.
We hope that this never comes up, but we may disclose your personal information if we believe that it’s reasonably necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily harm or death to a person, or to protect our organization, employees, contractors, users, or the public. We may also disclose your personal information if we reasonably believe it necessary to detect, prevent, or otherwise assess and address potential spam, malware, fraud, abuse, unlawful activity, and security or technical concerns. (Check out our list of examples for more information.)
To Our Service Providers
As hard as we may try, we can’t do it all. So sometimes we use third-party service providers or contractors who help run or improve the Wikimedia Sites for you and other users. We may give access to your personal information to these providers or contractors as needed to perform their services for us or to use their tools and services. We seek to put requirements, such as confidentiality agreements, in place to help ensure that these service providers treat your information consistent with, and no less protective of your privacy than, the principles of this Policy. (Check out our list of examples.)
To Understand and Experiment
The open source software that powers the Wikimedia Sites depends on the contributions of volunteer software developers, who spend time writing and testing code to help improve and evolve with our users’ needs. To facilitate their work, we may give some developers limited access to systems that contain your personal information but only as reasonably necessary for them to develop and contribute to the Wikimedia Sites.
Similarly, we may share non-personal or aggregated information with researchers, scholars, academics, and other interested third parties who wish to study the Wikimedia Sites. Sharing this information helps them understand usage, viewing, and demographics statistics and patterns. They then can share their findings with us and our users so that we can all better understand and improve the Wikimedia Sites.
When we give access to personal information to third party developers or researchers, we seek to put requirements, such as reasonable technical and contractual protections, in place to help ensure that these service providers treat your information consistently with the principles of this Policy and in accordance with our instructions. If these developers or researchers later publish their work or findings, we ask that they not disclose your personal information. Please note that, despite the obligations we impose on developers and researchers, we cannot guarantee that they will abide by our agreement, nor do we guarantee that we will regularly screen or audit their projects. (Learn more about re-identification.)
Because You Made It Public
Any information you post publicly on the Wikimedia Sites is just that – public. Please think carefully about your desired level of anonymity before you disclose personal information on your user page or elsewhere.
How Do We Protect Your Data?
We strive to protect your information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. We use a variety of physical and technical measures, policies, and procedures (such as access control procedures, network firewalls, and physical security) designed to protect our systems and your personal information. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as completely secure data transmission or storage, so we can't guarantee that our security will not be breached (by technical measures or violation of our policies and procedures).
How Long Do We Keep Your Data?
Once we receive personal information from you, we keep it for the shortest possible time that is consistent with maintenance, understanding, and improvement of the Wikimedia Sites, and our obligations under applicable U.S. law. Non-personal information may be retained indefinitely. (Check out our list of examples.) Please remember that certain information is retained and displayed indefinitely, such as your IP address if you edit while not logged in and any public contributions to the Wikimedia Sites.
Where is the Foundation and What Does that Mean for Me?
- In the event of substantial changes, we will provide the proposed changes to our users in at least three (3) languages (selected at our discretion) for open comment period lasting at least thirty (30) calendar days. Prior to the start of any comment period, we will provide notice of such changes and the opportunity to comment via the Wikimedia Sites, and via a notification on WikimediaAnnounce-L or a similar mailing list.
- For minor changes, such as grammatical fixes, administrative or legal changes, or corrections of inaccurate statements, we will post the changes and, when possible, provide at least three (3) calendar days’ prior notice via WikimediaAnnounce-L or similar mailing list.