Confidentiality Policy: Policy & Abuse

Last Updated: May 2018

In the course of performing their duties, Policy & Abuse committee staffers and other individuals consulted by Policy & Abuse on Policy & Abuse matters will encounter private information about or provided by Archive of Our Own users (hereafter referred to as the AO3). Policy & Abuse staff and other individuals are expected to uphold the highest standards of confidentiality, and may not disclose to anyone outside the Policy & Abuse Committee the details of any of the cases they may encounter, investigate, or resolve, under any circumstances, other than in general terms or as necessary to perform Policy & Abuse committee responsibilities as discussed in the following paragraph. Under no circumstances may an staff member disclose to anyone outside the Policy & Abuse committee the names, pseudonyms, or other personally identifying information of individuals involved in Policy & Abuse cases except as set forth in the following paragraph. Policy & Abuse committee members may discuss confidential information in closed Policy & Abuse committee meetings and may use confidential information as necessary to reply to a complainant who has requested notification of a case’s resolution.

All information received in the course of ordinary Policy & Abuse communication, no matter how widely available otherwise, is to be treated as confidential information, with the exceptions noted in the AO3 Terms of Service. Policy & Abuse committee staffers and other individuals consulted by Policy & Abuse will provide no information about any Policy & Abuse team proceedings to any third party except to the parties involved, their Board liaison(s), the OTW Board of Directors, or as legally required. All requests for information must be approved by the chair before shared with anyone outside the committee, including the Board of Directors and our Board-appointed liaison(s). On occasion when the input of another committee such as Legal is involved, only the pertinent information will be released, and the additional personnel is bound by the same confidentiality agreement; all staffers receiving the information must be informed that the information is confidential and that it must not be disclosed.

The Policy & Abuse committee cannot function without information provided by the AO3 users; the OTW does not police the AO3, nor does it pre-screen Content. Therefore, all violations of the AO3 Terms of Service must be user-reported, and it is those reports with which this policy is primarily concerned. A user may always report a Terms of Service violation anonymously, providing no information about themselves; this is the only way to ensure that the complainant’s personal information is never attached to a case as metadata.

The OTW or the Policy & Abuse committee may release general statistics related to the functioning of the AO3, including trends the Policy & Abuse team has encountered and noted; no details about any specific case may be included in this report. Non-specific aggregations of data may be used to recommend policy changes to the OTW or to communicate with the AO3 user community.

All OTW committees share several tools. This means staffers will also have access to information pertaining to other OTW committees. Staffers should assume that all information gathered while browsing these tools is confidential and should not be shared without permission from that committee.

This policy shall apply during an individual’s service as an OTW staffer or volunteer and shall continue to bind that individual after their service with the OTW has ended.

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