The Merced Sun Star's Privacy Policy

August 27, 2007 

Privacy Policy Effective Date: March 22, 2005

Current Policy.

Mercedsunstar.com has a firm commitment to privacy. We take your privacy concerns seriously and want to make every effort to address them as we strive to offer our site visitors a high quality, interactive and personalized experience. That is why we have adopted the following policy, which explains our position on information gathering and how we intend to use and share any information we collect. It is important to note that this policy applies only to information collected by Mercedsunstar.com and does not apply to information obtained or used by The Modesto Bee or its affiliates through other means.

Mercedsunstar.com collects and stores Personally Identifiable Information such as your name, address, e-mail address, etc. What information we collect and store depends on the page you are visiting and the services you elect to participate in. We use this information to operate our services, provide you with the highest quality services, offer you opportunities we think will be of interest, and better tailor the advertising you see from us to suit you. This information is not shared with anyone outside of The Merced Sun Star and mercedsunstar.com except as provided for in this Privacy Policy. More specifics on the information we collect are outlined within this policy.

This privacy policy is subject to change from time to time. If the policy is revised, a notice will be posted in this location, where registered members of our service may also update their personal information, subscribe to e-mail newsletters and revise the permissions that they previously granted mercedsunstar.com. They may also receive an e-mail outlining the change. Non-registered users of mercedsunstar.com may view the privacy policy, including any revisions, by clicking on the "Privacy Policy" link on the home page of mercedsunstar.com. If the changes represent a material departure from our current policy or materially affect users' rights and obligations, if feasible, the changes will be posted on this page 30 days in advance of their effective date.

What information we collect and how it is used Access to special content, services and features on mercedsunstar.com requires users to be subscribers to The Merced Sun Star and to become registered members at mercedsunstar.com. Member registration requires you to provide certain Personally Identifiable Information, such as your name, e-mail address, street address, gender, and date of birth. You will be asked to select a member name and password so that you have access to this information and can revise it in the future. To complete the registration process, we will send you a validation e-mail message. You must click the link in the e-mail to fully activate your membership account. You will also have the opportunity to subscribe to e-mail newsletters and alerts and elect to receive E-mail Offers sent to you on behalf of Mercedsunstar.com advertisers. Some features and services may require additional Personally Identifiable Information or other demographic information. We may collect other personal information when you provide feedback, comments, engage in chat, message boards, interactive forums or participate in surveys, or if you contact us offline. For example, when you enter contests you will be asked to also provide your phone number so that we can reach you in the event you've won a prize. All users may decline to share such information with us, by choosing not to register on the web site or use our services. Only registered members, however, may access certain content, services and features.

You may also be asked to create a separate registration account with some of the services provided by partners and other providers on mercedsunstar.com. An example is the mercedsunstar.com paid archive service. Be aware that the information collected by a provider may be subject to the privacy policy and terms of use of that provider, and we recommend reviewing these prior to submitting your registration.

If you wish to forward an article to a friend, we will ask that you provide your friend's name and e-mail address. While we may collect statistics on which articles are forwarded, we do not sell, rent, or market your friend's personal information, and retain the information only as long as necessary to provide this service.

Passive Data Collection and Use

Like most Web sites, mercedsunstar.com also collects and logs information automatically and through the use of electronic tools that may be transparent to you, such as your IP address, the name and location of your Internet Service Provider, the type and version of your browser, the length of time that you stay on mercedsunstar.com, search queries, your click-stream data, the location that referred you to mercedsunstar.com and the average number of pages viewed. If you visit another website prior to browsing mercedsunstar.com, that website might place personally identifiable information within a URL, which may be logged by us. Your IP address is the identifier assigned to your particular computer when you access the Internet. Depending on how you connect to the Internet, your IP address may always be the same, or it may change each time you access the Internet. Note that logging your IP address does not in and of itself provide us with your name, e-mail address or home or work address. We use this log information for systems administration and troubleshooting purposes and may also use it to gather general demographic information about you such as your general location and your Internet Service Provider. In order to better provide our services to you and to develop member profiles that enable us to focus our site, services and advertisements on your interests, we may correlate this log information with other information about you, such as your registration information or newspaper subscription records.

Cookies, Web Beacons and Third Party Advertising Technology on our sites

Most standard Web browsers contain a feature called "cookies," which allow a Web site to place information about a user's visit to that Web site in a small data text file that is stored on the user's computer. Our use of cookie technology will likely be transparent to you and is used to recognize you and hold information from one visit to the next in an effort to increase your ease of use of mercedsunstar.com and to allow us to better understand how people use our site through click-stream analysis. For example, cookies are used to store your member name and password, sparing you from having to re-enter that information each time you visit. Another example is that we may use cookie technology to control the number of times you see a particular advertisement while visiting mercedsunstar.com. You can turn the cookies feature off by using your browser preference options, but doing so will severely limit your access to mercedsunstar.com and may prevent you from registration.

Some of mercedsunstar.com's third party content providers also may place a cookie on the user's computer. If a user chooses to monitor or restrict cookies that are placed on his computer, the user can determine the Web site that is attempting to place a cookie. Those cookies are controlled by the content provider, and users should refer to that provider's privacy policy for further information regarding its use of cookies.

We use software developed by another company, RealMedia, to display advertising on mercedsunstar.com, and we may use cookies in conjunction with displaying those ads. In addition, advertisers may elect to use other advertising companies to serve their ads on mercedsunstar.com, and advertisers themselves may also place a cookie on a user's computer. We do not have access to the cookies or their contents that are placed by advertisers or by third-party advertising companies.

We use third-party advertising technology vendors to collect, via includes cookies and web beacons (1x1 pixels), non-personally identifiable data when you visit our Web site. These companies may use information (not including your name, address email address or telephone number) about your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here. http://www.networkadvertising.org/consumer/opt_out.asp

Use of Personally Identifiable Information

Personally Identifiable Information may be accessed by the user who entered it, by The Merced Sun Star and mercedsunstar.com personnel, and by certain third parties, such as those who provide technical support or content services to mercedsunstar.com. We ask these third parties to keep any personal information supplied by us confidential. We also endeavor to keep your Personally Identifiable Information inaccessible to other users or advertisers of mercedsunstar.com. Note that your first name may be displayed on modestobee.com when you visit mercedsunstar.com as a logged in member. We will also display your e-mail address and contact information in your Member Center. We make every effort to make the Member Center secure, such that; it can only be accessed by logging in with your member name and password. We also reserve the right to disclose Personally Identifiable Information when deemed necessary or appropriate to comply with the law, respond to claims, protect our computer systems and customers, ensure the integrity and operation of our business and systems, or protect the rights, property or safety of mercedsunstar.com, its affiliates, or others.

We will not disclose your Personally Identifiable Information without your advance permission except as explained in this privacy policy or as explained at the time the information was collected.

Use of Aggregated information

In order to describe our services to prospective partners, advertisers and others, we may use your Personally Identifiable Information to create a compiled, aggregate view of the Mercedsunstar.com audience and their usage patterns. We use Aggregated Information to operate our services and to better understand our audience as we develop new content and services. Aggregated Information may also be shared with third parties we contract with to provide content and services on mercedsunstar.com as well as advertisers so that they can better understand our audience. For example, we might disclose that a certain percentage of our users are female or within a certain age range or live within a cluster of zip codes.

Children's Privacy

Mercedsunstar.com is particularly concerned with providing a safe online environment for children. Children under the age 13 will not be allowed to register and become a member of mercedsunstar.com in order to access general mercedsunstar.com content, features and services.

In the near future, parents and legal guardians of children under age 13 who register are able to establish a member account for their child by accessing the Member Center. Other areas and services operated by mercedsunstar.com that do not require registration but that ask for Personally Identifiable Information from children under age 13 will require a parental consent before collecting the information. The Merced Sun Star does not ask children under age 13 for more personal information, as a condition of participation, than is reasonably necessary to participate in a given activity or promotion. Further, we limit most of our contests to people who are at least 18 years of age, making children ineligible to enter.

Parental consent to collect information about children can be provided in two ways: (1) Fax a copy of a completed Parental Consent Form, including your signature, to the facsimile number provided on the Parental Consent Form. This form will be available in applicable areas of our site. (2) Mail a completed Parental Consent Form to the address indicated.

Mercedsunstar.com will not knowingly disclose personal information about users under the age of 13 without prior parental or legal guardian consent, except as required by law. If for any reason you wish to access, update or remove information about your child that has been previously provided to mercedsunstar.com, you may fax us (at 209-578-2118), call us (at 209-578-2149) or send an e-mail to ejohnston@modbee.com.

Mercedsunstar.com strongly recommends parental supervision when a child uses the Internet, particularly when a child enters a forum or uses e-mail. We also encourage parents to instruct their children not to give out personal information in these areas.

Member Mail and E-mail Offers

Mercedsunstar.com does not rent, sell, barter or give away its user or member lists or its users' or members' names, e-mail addresses or mailing addresses for use by advertisers and other third parties for the purpose of solicitations, unless the user has previously given his or her consent at the time of general registration or registration for a specific contest or service. If a user granted permission to receive solicitations (referred to as E-mail Offers) at the time of registration but subsequently wishes to opt out from receiving such solicitations, the user may go to the Member Center and change one or more of the category-specific permission related to receiving e-mail from The Merced Sun Star and mercedsunstar.com advertisers.

All registered users will receive periodic Member Mail via e-mail related to their membership account or various features and services on mercedsunstar.com that their membership entitles them to access. Because Member Mail is an important part of our service to you, users cannot opt-out of receiving Member Mail.

Separate from mercedsunstar.com Member Mail

The Merced Sun-Star may send you information via e-mail about various products or services that we believe may be of interest to you, including e-mails that may contain content provided by third party advertisers. If you don't want to receive this information, you can opt out by changing your permission setting for The Merced Sun Star Promotions e-mail in the Member Center. The Member Center also allows you to select which categories of E-mail Offers might interest you.

When a user specifically authorizes e-mail solicitations we make available the user names and other Personally Identifiable Information in accordance with the applicable license.

Our HTML-encoded e-mail messages may include graphic files, which we use to gather information about e-mails sent our members. When such a message is opened in an HTML-capable e-mail program, the recipient's computer accesses our server to retrieve the graphic file, and allows us to record and store the date and time, the recipient's e-mail address, and other standard logging information. These HTML-encoded e-mail messages may also read cookies.

Affiliated sites, linked sites and advertisements Mercedsunstar.com expects its partners, providers of content and services and advertisers to respect the privacy of our users. Be aware, however, that third parties, including our partners, providers of content and services, advertisers and others accessible through our site may have their own privacy and data collection policies and practices. For example, during your visit to mercedsunstar.com you may link to, or view as part of a frame on a mercedsunstar.com page, certain content that is actually created or hosted by a third party. Also through mercedsunstar.com you may be introduced to, or be able to access information, services, Web sites, features, contest or sweepstakes offered by other parties. The Merced Sun Star and mercedsunstar.com are not responsible for the actions or policies of such third parties. You should check the applicable privacy policies of those third parties when providing information on a feature or page operated by a third party.

Electronic commerce with The Merced Sun Star For certain electronic commerce services on mercedsunstar.com, such as placing classified ads electronically or subscribing to The Merced Sun Star newspaper, we require additional information. To complete these transactions, we may collect information from you such as your name, credit card number and other financial or Personally Identifiable Information. We endeavor to protect the security of your payment information during transmission by using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology, which encrypts information you submit. The Merced Sun Star uses the credit card and shipping information for the purpose of completing the transaction and does not provide this information to third parties except for the issuers of credit cards in order to process the transaction, or as otherwise set forth in this policy.

Changing your personal information In general, a registered member may return to his or her account information page in the Member Center to update the information he or she previously provided to us. To prevent minors from improperly entering contests for which they are not eligible, we may require additional proof from people asking to change their birth date information. Information you provide to mercedsunstar.com may be stored by us for an indefinite time. This information includes the registration data as well as information provided in conjunction with various membership services, contests or features available on mercedsunstar.com

You can delete your Mercedsunstar.com membership account in Member Center by clicking on the link labeled delete my account. By doing so, all but a transactional record of your membership account will be removed from our databases, though some records may remain on back-up media. Note that by deleting your account, you will cancel your membership and no longer be able to access mercedsunstar.com.

Remember the risks when you use the Internet. You should know that when you voluntarily disclose personal information on the mercedsunstar.com Web site (for example, in the discussion forums), that information can be collected and used by others and may result in unsolicited messages from other people. While we do our best to protect your personal information, we cannot be responsible for information that you choose to publicly disclose. Further, you are solely responsible for maintaining the secrecy of any passwords or other account information. Although we make good faith efforts to store the information we collect in a secure operating environment that is not available to the public and to work with responsible third parties, we cannot guarantee complete security for your information.

In addition, our advertisers, content providers, partners and other Internet sites or services that may be accessible through mercedsunstar.com have separate data and privacy practices that are independent of us, and we disclaim any responsibility or liability for their policies or actions. Please contact those sites directly if you have questions about their privacy policies.

International users

If you are an international user, by using mercedsunstar.com or by registering for any of its services, you agree that Mercedsunstar.com may collect, use and transfer your personal information as described in this privacy policy, including transfers outside the country where you live. If you reside in a country in the European Union or other jurisdiction that provides access rights under law, you may access your personal information or have it corrected or updated by going to your account information page and personally updating the information. in accordance with applicable law by contacting us. In some jurisdictions, you may be charged a reasonable fee for access to information.

Platform for Privacy Preferences

Mercedsunstar.com supports P3P, the Platform for Privacy Preferences, which allows us to convey our privacy policies, to the extent possible, in standardized, machine-readable code. While our site supports P3P, the resulting code has inherent limitations such that it does not fully and may not accurately express all of our data practices. Some P3P-enabled browsers may interpret the same P3P code in different ways, while others may interpret P3P code in a manner inconsistent with the original intention. Accordingly, your browser's interpretation of the P3P code should only be considered as a short-hand expression of our privacy practices. This Privacy Policy remains our primary policy, and takes precedence over the P3P code for all purposes.

General

In the event of the sale or merger of The Merced Sun Star Company and/or The McClatchy Company, ownership of the information described in this Privacy Policy will be transferred to the acquiring or successor company.

Mercedsunstar.com endorses and abides by the privacy principles approved by the Interactive Services Association and the Direct Marketing Association. If you have any questions or comments about our policies, we may be reached at mercedsunstar.com, 3033 N. G St., Merced CA 95340, at (209)385-2464 or at bbowers@mercedsun-star.com

Effective Date: March 22, 2005

Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

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