WORD CENTRAL'S PRIVACY POLICY

The following policy applies to Merriam-Webster's Word Central.com site (www.wordcentral.com).

Merriam-Webster is committed to protecting the privacy and security of everyone who visits its Word Central site. This policy statement provides our visitors (especially parents, teachers, and children) with an overview of the efforts we have made to provide a safe environment for visitors to the site.

PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION:

We have designed our site so that no personally identifiable information is requested of visitors to participate in our online activities, except where necessary to implement the activity.

The following kinds of information are "personally identifiable information" for purposes of this privacy policy:

  • first and last name, or
  • home address or other physical address, or
  • e-mail address or other on-line contact information, or
  • telephone number, or
  • Social Security number, or
  • a persistent identifier, such as a customer number or a processor serial number that is associated with personally identifiable information, or
  • a combination of a last name and a photograph with other information where the combination would permit physical or on-line contacting, or
  • information regarding the child or his or her parents that is collected online from the child and combines with an identifier described above.

THE INFORMATION WE COLLECT AND HOW WE USE IT:

In order to implement selected activities associated with Word Central, Merriam-Webster limits the amount of information it requests. Generally, we request only non-personally identifiable information from children, such as screen name, age, grade and state or country of residence. This information is collected so that children can play games, get credit for their submissions, such as words they add to Build Your Own Dictionary, and participate in other activities on the site.

We also collect non-personally identifiable information in the form of "cookies" (see below under THE USE OF COOKIE TECHNOLOGY and INFORMATION THAT IS NOT PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE).

Where personally identifiable information is necessary to engage in an activity on Word Central, we collect only the minimum required. We may request limited personally identifiable information from children in connection with content submissions, subscription registrations, e-mail messaging from one student to another when using our activities, requests for suggestions, participation in games, contests, or sweepstakes and requests for free products, services (such as language research), or additional information. In each instance, we will collect only the information necessary to deliver an answer to a question, to contact a winner, or to fulfill a request.

We also provide the opportunity to send e-mail to us. We may ask for first names, but we request no personally identifiable information except an e-mail address, which we use solely for the purpose of responding to messages and/or requests. All such information is used only to respond to email questions and/or requests and is deleted from our system once the email message or email response is sent.

We have established the following policies in regard to personally identifiable information:

  1. A. Except for IP addresses (see below under "USE OF IP ADDRESSES"), we collect personally identifiable information from our visitors only when such visitors voluntarily submit such information, such as by sending us an email or entering a contest.
  2. B. We do not collect personally identifiable information from children under the age of 13 without first obtaining verifiable parental consent, unless we only use such information to: (1) obtain parental consent or provide parents with notice; (2) respond directly on a one-time basis to a child's specific request; (3) respond more than once to a child's specific request along with providing parental notice of such use; (4) protect the safety of a child; or (5) comply with legal requirements.
  3. C. Unless we indicate otherwise, personally identifiable information will be used solely by Merriam-Webster or its agents for internal purposes and will not be sold or otherwise transferred to third parties.
  4. D. While we believe an important part of the educational process is giving recognition to a child for the work he or she does, we will never post on Word Central more than a child's first name, state or country, and age or grade.

FOR PARENTS:

There are many activities on Merriam-Webster's Word Central site that children can participate in and enjoy without having to share personally identifiable information. For those activities that require personally identifiable information, Merriam-Webster will not condition a child's participation in an activity on that child disclosing more personally identifiable information than is reasonably necessary for the child to participate in the activity. For certain online activities, we require verifiable parental consent before collecting or using a child's personally identifiable information. With these activities, Merriam-Webster will notify the respective parent of our privacy policy and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting personally identifiable information from a child, unless one of the exceptions in paragraph B above applies.

Parents can request to review or have deleted their child's personally identifiable information from Merriam-Webster's records, and refuse to permit further use of a child's information by printing, completing and returning this letter to the specified address. Merriam-Webster takes steps to verify the identity of anyone requesting information about a child and to ensure that the person is in fact the child's parent or legal guardian.

For some activities that may require more than a one-time contact with a child, such as some contest entries and subscriptions, Merriam-Webster will require children under 13 to provide a parent's e-mail address when the child initiates the activity. We will notify the parent of the child's entry or subscription and give the parent the option to have the entry or subscription deleted.

FOR TEACHERS:

There are activities and links to additional information on Merriam-Webster's Word Central site that are for teachers, to enhance your use of the dictionary and language arts information in your classroom. With respect to collection of the teacher's personally identifiable information, we may use such information to provide teachers with information about materials, activities, or other things that may be of interest for educational purposes, including products and services.

FOR KIDS:

Use the Web with wisdom. Do not give out your full name, e-mail address, home address, telephone number or any other personal information that would enable someone to contact you either online or offline, without first asking your parent or guardian for permission.

Sometimes on our site we will ask you for your first name and e-mail address along with your parent's e-mail or home address. We do this so that we can contact your parents if you are under 13 years of age to let them know that we have collected information from you and, if required, to ask their permission to maintain and use that information. This is part of our job to keep WordCentral.com a safe place for you to visit and enjoy.

Please encourage your parents to review this privacy policy with you and to set clear guidelines for using the Web.

THE USE OF COOKIE TECHNOLOGY and INFORMATION THAT IS NOT PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE:

We collect information that is not personally identifiable through the use of a software technology called "cookies", and through our visitors' voluntary submissions to us and/or upon our request for voluntary information. By information that is not personally identifiable, we are referring to information that we track in aggregate form such as information about our visitor's browser (e.g., Internet Explorer or Firefox), operating system (e.g., Windows or Macintosh), Internet service provider (e.g., AOL) and other similar information.

Cookie technology helps us to know how many people visit Word Central and where visitors go on our site. Cookies are small bits of information we send to your computer. Among other things, this information allows us to know which areas are favorites, which areas need improvement, and what technologies and Internet services are being used by our visitors so that we may continually improve the on-line experiences of our visitors. Nonetheless, this information remains anonymous, because we do not actively associate the cookie ID with any personally identifiable information. You can disable cookies on your computer by indicating this in the preferences or options menus in your browser.

We may aggregate information that is not personally identifiable and analyze it for market research and for tracking site usage patterns. The purpose of using information in this way is to help us continually update Word Central to meet the needs of its visitors. Such aggregated information may be provided to other organizations we do business with for statistical or market research purposes. For example, we may notify teachers that certain activities are popular with children in 3rd and 4th grades to help teachers determine how best to utilize Word Central in their classrooms.

We also collect the following information that is not personally identifiable in connection with content submissions, games, and selected activities: first name, state or country, and age and grade. This information is tracked by us in an anonymous format and will never be identified with or lead us back to any of our visitors.

ADVERTISING:

Merriam-Webster uses the services of third parties to present or target the advertisements, promotions, and other marketing messages that appear on the pages of Word Central and to conduct research about such advertisements, promotions, and other marketing messages. These third parties may perform statistical analyses of user behavior in order to measure interest in the various areas of our site (for product development purposes) and to inform advertisers as to how many visitors have seen or "clicked" their advertising banners. We may also use demographic information to allow advertising banners on Word Central to be targeted to the visitors for whom they are most pertinent. This means that visitors may see advertising that is most likely to interest them, and advertisers send their messages to people who are most likely to be receptive, improving both the user's experience and the effectiveness of the ads. In this statistical analyses and banner advertisement targeting, we will disclose information to third parties only in aggregate form, with no personally identifiable information.

If you "click" on one of these ads, the third party ad service provider may place or recognize its own unique cookies on your browser and may collect information about your visit. This privacy policy does not cover any use of information that such third parties may collect or the method used by such third parties to collect that information (e.g., cookies).

USE OF IP ADDRESSES:

We collect IP addresses to obtain aggregate information on the use of WordCentral.com. An IP address is a number assigned to your computer by a Web server when you're on the Web. When you are on our site, we have a back-end server which logs your computer's IP address. We only use the information we find out from tracking IP addresses in the aggregate, such as how many users entered a specific area of our site, and not to track a specific IP address to identify an individual user. However, we may use such information to identify a user if we feel that there are or may be safety and/or security issues, or to comply with legal requirements.

SECURITY:

Merriam-Webster ensures that all information that it receives via the Internet -- both personally identifiable information and that which is not -- is secure against unauthorized access. This information is in data files behind a firewall on Merriam-Webster's servers and is therefore isolated from direct connection to the Internet. Occasionally we will provide aggregate information to our business partners, but we will never provide them with individually identifiable information. Any third party vendors that Merriam-Webster contracts with (and any of their affiliates) will be required to act within the guidelines of Merriam-Webster's privacy policy. This means that no eyes but ours will ever see personally identifiable information that our visitors send to us, unless we indicate otherwise.

LINKS TO OTHER SITES:

Word Central may contain carefully selected links to other Web sites whose content we believe may be of possible interest to our visitors. When we include such links, every effort is made by our staff to ensure that those other sites do not contain material that is inappropriate for children. Visitors will find links from www.WordCentral.com to our general reference site (www.Merriam-Webster.com) and to independently owned, controlled and/or managed World Wide Web or Internet sites. In many cases, but not always, the links represent cooperative projects or mutual links established between Merriam-Webster and the organizations associated with these other sites.

While we initially visit all linked sites to ensure appropriateness, please note that our privacy policy does not apply to these other sites, and we do not control the content that appears on these sites. The content on other sites may be constantly changing and because we are not always able to monitor the content of the sites that we link to, we recommend that children check with a parent before using these links. We encourage parents to be involved with children's on-line activities and to supervise any visits to such linked sites.

CHANGES TO THIS PRIVACY POLICY:

Please note that we may revise the above privacy policy as the content on our site continues to change and grow. We encourage you to check back and review this policy from time to time, so that you always will know what information we collect, how we use it, and to whom we disclose it.

We hope that you enjoy exploring our site, and that you find it educational, fascinating, fun, and exciting.

WordCentral.com is owned and operated by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 47 Federal St., Springfield, MA 01102. We can be reached by telephone at 413-734-3134, and by e-mail at .