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Privacy on - UK and Ireland :

 iSpot Privacy Notice 

(uploaded May 25, 2018)

Summary (iSpot) is a citizen science platform (website) that facilitates the recording of biological data while building the users’ species identification skills, which is provided by The Open University (OU).

For your use of iSpot, we need to collect and process certain personal data, such as your email address in order to process your registration, answer queries, provide services and manage the operation of iSpot effectively. This page sets out what other data we collect and how we use them. It will be updated from time to time to ensure compliance with data protection legislation.

Scope: Information about this page

The statement on this page sets out how The Open University (“we” or “us”) uses and protects personal information that we collect from you, or that you provide to us, when you use iSpot, in compliance with European Union (“EU”) and UK data protection requirements.

This policy statement is aligned with the iSpot Terms of Use (last updated May 24, 2019).

Please read this page carefully to understand our views and practices regarding your data. You should review this page regularly. By visiting and continuing to use iSpot, you are accepting and consenting to the practices described. We may update this page from time to time and your continued use of iSpot after changes have been made will be taken to indicate your acceptance of the updated statement. For your protection we are registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.

1. Who we are: 

1.1 The Open University is the data controller in relation to the processing activities described below. This means that The Open University decides why and how your personal information is processed. For further information about OU privacy see the OU Privacy Notice available here:

1.2 In this Privacy Notice, when it says 'we' or 'us', unless it mentions otherwise, it means The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA; which is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England and Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).

2. What information do we collect about you, and how do we collect it?

Personal information you give to us

2.1 When you register with iSpot you create an account.  To create an iSpot account you provide:

       2.1.1 Account information: a username (the name you choose to identify yourself on iSpot), your email address and a password

       2.1.2 Personal information: first and last name

       2.1.3 Optional information: location, field of interest, how did you hear about iSpot.

      Though this we grant you access to use this website.

2.2 The username you choose is part of your public profile but your email is private, unless you add this to your signature (Please note: we recommend you do not do this). We do not ask you for your password, you can request to reset this at any time and this is only store in an encrypted format to facilitate your use of the site.

2.3 When you register with us, you create an iSpot user profile, where you can update this information, and:

       2.3.1 Add Optional information: a picture, signature (which are displayed in your comments on the site).

       2.3.2 Select Default Information: preferred community (UK & Ireland, Global, Chile, Hong Kong, Southern Africa), Language (currently only English), where you prefer to be redirected to upon login (i.e. Community homepage).

We may automatically collect the following information

2.4 When you log in and use the site your activity and changes are collected and tracked including: posting observations (biological records), tagging observations, uploading image(s) as part of a record, making identifications, receiving or agreeing with others; taking an iSpot Quiz and setting up iSpot projects. This information is necessary to build your user reputation and is collected and added to your user profile.

2.5 We may automatically collect technical analytics information when you browse our website. Further information about this is given in Sections 4 and 8 below, also see our Terms of Use and cookies notification on the iSpot front page.

3. How do we use your personal information?

Where the activity relates to our public task of delivering Higher Education qualifications, academic research and promoting the educational wellbeing of the community.

3.1 We will use and process your personal information to inform our online content, provide our services and activities, to provide you with information about them, and to deal with your requests and enquiries.

3.2 As part of our public task we provide, a citizen science platform that facilitates the recording of biological data which can be used for research and academic purposes. In doing so we may:

       3.2.1 Make iSpot records available to other institutions and researchers; national (i.e. National Biodiversity Network - NBN) and international (i.e. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility – GBIF) repositories. Usernames may be shared for biological data verification purposes, when required, but email addresses and names will never be shared.

       3.2.2 Invite you to take part in specific research activities to either help us plan and improve our services, or for academic research purposes

Where the activity is in our legitimate interests

3.3 We use your email address to contact you to respond to any queries you raise via ‘contact us’, to reply if you email us directly or to resolve any issues between users which may come up from time to time. We also use this to contact you about changes to the iSpot website, important alerts or updates.

3.4 Our legitimate interests are to provide as a citizen science platform that facilitates the recording of biological data, while building the users’ species identification skills. In doing so we may take actions to improve services, manage website operations efficiently, and increase registration and use of the site. This includes:

  • To give you relevant information about our services
  • To analyse our website use 9i.e. analytics) and registered users to inform our citizen science and research goals, and to enhance and personalise your customer experience
  • To verify the accuracy of iSpot data that you have contributed  and to create a better understanding of this
  • To maintain network and information security
  • To test and maintain our systems
  • To manage complaints 

4. Who do we share your information with?

Relevant services

4.1 We may capture information from your use through third party analytics and search engine providers that assist us to enhance, improve and optimise our website and the services it offers. The information captured is not personally-identifiable information - that is, nothing that can identify you as an individual is stored.

4.2 We may make iSpot records available to other institutions and researchers; national (i.e. National Biodiversity Network - NBN) and international (i.e. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility – GBIF) repositories as set out in paragraph 3..2.1.


Other ways we may share your personal information

4.3 We may transfer your personal information to a successor body if the ownership of iSpot were to change. We may also transfer your personal information if we’re under a duty to disclose or share it in order to comply with any legal obligation, to detect or report a crime, to enforce or apply the terms of our contracts or to protect the rights, property or safety of our users. However, we will always take steps with the aim of ensuring that your privacy rights continue to be protected.

5. Where we store your personal information

5.1 Generally, information you provide to us is stored on our secure servers, or on our cloud-based systems which are located within the European Economic Area.

5.2 If we transfer your information outside of the EEA, we will take steps to ensure that appropriate security measures are taken with the aim of ensuring that your privacy rights continue to be protected as outlined in this policy. These steps include imposing contractual obligations on the recipient of your personal information, or ensuring that the recipients are subscribed to ‘international frameworks’ that aim to ensure adequate protection. For example, we would ensure that a US based supplier has signed up to “Privacy Shield”.

6. How long we keep your personal information for

6.1 If we collect your personal information, the length of time we retain it is determined by a number of factors, including the purpose for which we use that information and our obligations under other laws. We will hold your personal information on our systems for as long as is necessary for the relevant activity.

6.2 Your iSpot user account will exist unless you ask for it to be deleted (please refer to our Terms of Use).

6.3 We will keep your record until an appropriate time after your last meaningful contact with us (this is set by business rules).

6.4 Records you create during certain specific iSpot activity, i.e. agreements with or comments on other user observations may be kept as part of the biological record of that observation.

7. Your rights 

7.1 You have a number of rights in relation to your personal information, which apply in certain circumstances.

7.2 You have the right to:

  • access the personal information that we hold about you
  • correct inaccuracies in the personal information that we hold about you
  • request that we stop sending you direct marketing communications.

In certain circumstances, you have the right to:

  • have your details removed from systems that we use to process your personal data
  • restrict the processing of your personal data in certain ways obtain a copy of your personal data in a structured electronic data file
  • object to certain processing of your personal data by us

7.3 If you are concerned about the way we have processed your personal information, you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Please visit the ICO’s website for further details

8. Cookies 

8.1 Like many other websites, iSpot use cookies and similar technologies to obtain an overall view of visitor habits and visitor volumes, and to provide you with useful and relevant information about your user activity in your profile. Cookies are files which store information on your hard drive or browser which enables our software to recognise that you have visited the Site before. Cookies can make it easier for you to maintain your preferences on iSpot. See more information on the use of cookies on OU websites here: .

8.2 By seeing how you use iSpot we can tailor it around your preferences and measure the general usability of the website. In particular we may use cookies to identify which pages are being most frequently used. This information is used for statistical analysis including the identification of patterns and trends.

8.3 No information obtained from a cookie will be used for iSpot marketing purposes.

9. Linking

9.1 iSpot provides direct links to other websites that can provide further information on the species you are observing and organisations and groups involved in biological recording, etc. Users may also provide links to other websites which are not within our control. Once you have left iSpot we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.


10. Contact us

 Please direct any queries about this statement to: [email protected]. Our Data Protection Officer is E.A. Powis. For further queries about this policy or about the way we process your personal information you may also use the contact details below.

  • Email [email protected]
  • Telephone: +44(0)1908 653994
  • By post: The Data Protection Officer, PO Box 497, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AT.
25 May 2018
Janice A