Updates to Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

Hey folks, we updated our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service for iNaturalist last week. Here’s an overview of the noteworthy changes:

Privacy Policy

  • Clarified that direct messages between iNaturalist users can be viewed by staff if issues arise and should not be considered private correspondence

  • Updated the list of named data processors to reflect changes in the analytics services used to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot problems with infrastructure

  • Updated the list of data processors we work with to facilitate optional activities such as posting to the forum, making a donation, or purchasing from the store

  • Address the kinds of data shared with members of the iNaturalist Network

  • Explicitly note that most information shared with iNaturalist is public by default (i.e. published on the Internet)

  • Updated instructions for obtaining parental permission for users age 12 and under (via http://www.inaturalist.org/user_parents/new)

  • Explicitly note that we train machine learning models on data you contribute

Terms of Service

  • Added National Geographic

  • Clarifies that the Terms also apply to iNaturalist Network sites

  • Removed references to payments and refunds, since iNaturalist is free to use

Seek Privacy Policy

Rewritten to clarify that the core functionality of Seek shares almost no data, but that when optionally posting to iNaturalist, the iNaturalist Privacy Policy applies.

Ok, some detail for those interested:

Staff Can View Your Direct Messages

We rarely do this, and we really, really don’t like doing it because it feels super creepy, but we can and will do this in cases where inappropriate behavior has been reported, such as abuse, stalking, spam, etc. In general, the only thing that is truly private to you and impossible to see even for iNat staff is your password.

Data Processors

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires us to enumerate what third parties we share personal information with. Some of these, like the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, are impossible to avoid if we want to distribute our apps in those venues (it’s impossible to distribute an iPhone app anywhere other than the App Store, and distributing the Android app in venues other than the Google Play Store means most people would never see our app). Other processors, like New Relic and Google Firebase, are services we choose to use because they provide enormous value in monitoring our software and fixing bugs (particularly in the mobile apps). As detailed in the Privacy Policy, we do not share Your iNaturalist User ID, User name, email address, or name with any of these services, but we may share IP addresses, User-Agent strings (text that describes the software making a network connection), and information relating to software stability (e.g. information about software crashes) and behavior (e.g. the sequence of screens visited). That said, we realize some people do not want to share that info so we’re working on a way to opt-out.

Network Member Data Sharing

There’s no real change here, we’ve just tried to make it clearer that when you choose to associate with a member of the iNat Network (i.e. any site other than iNaturalist.org), the people and organizations associated with that Network Member can access coordinates that you have chosen to hide from public view and your email address, as described in your account settings. As trusted partners with which we have formal agreements, we may also share with them coordinates for observations that are automatically hidden from public view, for non-commercial research and conservation purposes.

Machine Learning

Automatic species suggestions (in the mobile apps, in the species autocomplete on the website, in Seek) are all powered by machine learning models we’ve trained on iNat photos and identifications. That hasn’t changed, but we wanted to make it clear that it is happening.

As always, we’re happy to answer any questions you have about these documents, or about data privacy specifically.

Posted by kueda kueda, December 09, 2019 23:12



Thanks Folks.

Posted by susanhewitt about 1 month ago (Flag)

I know this comment does not belong here, but please can someone tell me how to change my password on this site?

Posted by greatauntcarolyn about 1 month ago (Flag)

@greatauntcarolyn go to your account settings, then on the right side of the page there is a yellow box that says "Change your password"

To get to your account settings, you can go directly here: https://www.inaturalist.org/users/edit, or hover over your profile picture in the top right corner of any page and select "Account Settings"

Posted by bouteloua about 1 month ago (Flag)

Thank you bouteloua!

Posted by greatauntcarolyn about 1 month ago (Flag)

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments

Is this inappropriate, spam, or offensive? Add a Flag