Please read this document carefully. Because RegRoom (and its affiliated sites, Regulation Room and Planning Room) is part of a research program at Cornell University, you will be asked to agree to the following terms and conditions of site use and consent to participate in the research of which this site is a part.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

RegRoom: Technology to Support Citizen Understanding and Participation in Policymaking

RegRoom and its affiliated sites, including Planning Room and Regulation Room, are part of a research study in how citizens can become more effective in helping government craft better regulations and other complex policies. It is being conducted by CeRI (the Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative), a multidisciplinary group of researchers from communications, computing, conflict resolution, information science, and law who work in active partnership with the federal agencies whose proposals are featured on RegRoom.

What the study is about

This study uses existing and new technologies and methods to help people develop and communicate their preferences about federal regulatory policy. A moderated discussion environment allows users to learn the details of a federal rulemaking or planning process, discuss specific parts of the agency’s proposal, and react to what others’ say about it Our goal is to contribute to the existing research about online participation by (1) constructing a large scale public participation web environment; (2) observing group and individual behavioral tendencies in that environment; and (3) developing natural language processing methods to assist in analysis of the information submitted.

Content submitted to the site may be extracted, summarized, and analyzed. At the close of the comment period for the regulation or plan, summaries and analyses, as well as all content submitted to this site, will be offered to the federal agency developing the rule or plan, to assist them in their decision making.

You may read the site without participating in the study. To do this, we require no information from you.

To participate in discussion, endorse, or otherwise add content to the site, we require you to register. This involves picking a username and password, providing an email address, and agreeing to these terms and conditions. We will use your email only for the following purposes, and will in no event provide it to any other person or entity: (1) password recovery; (2) notices relating to comments you submit or to site events that are significant to continued participation in the discussion; (3) request to participate in a survey about your experience using the site. You may opt out of receiving such notices and/or may decline to participate in the survey. If you chose to register, you’ll have the option of including your real name and a brief bio. You’ll also have the option of making your real name and bio publicly viewable. Providing your real name, including a bio, and making either of these public are entirely voluntary.

What we will ask you to do

We encourage users to participate in the process by discussing issues, raising questions, and responding to other users’ reactions. Depending on the participation event, our researchers may summarize the discussion and you will be able to suggest changes to that summary. If we summarize, the final summary of discussion will be submitted by our researchers to the federal agency for inclusion in its decision-making process. You may also be able to respond to polls about the proposal or have the opportunity to join with other users in drafting joint comments in addition to this summary. You will have the opportunity to “sign on” to such comments drafted by other users. These joint comments will also be submitted to the agency by our researchers. We will not report to the agency any individually identifying information that is not publicly available on the site.

Short web-based questionnaires will appear when you submit content to our site. When you initially register, you be asked about your experience in participating in federal rulemakings or planning processes and about the nature of your interest in the rule or plan. This information will help us determine the effectiveness of the site and may be used in summarizing and analyzing the discussion for the agency. We may contact you using the email address you provide to ask you about your experiences using Regulation Room and how these experiences relate to your usage of the internet for other purposes and your other experiences with government participation. Response to any questions for this purpose is completely voluntary.

Risks and benefits

The goal of the project is to improve communication between government agencies and the public for the purposes of creating policy and regulations that better meet the needs of the public at reduced cost. Individuals would generally participate because they are interested in more effective policymaking, reduced cost, or both.

The principle risk of participation is that an individual might choose to provide sensitive personal information even though we do not require such information and warn users against including such information. The Profile page allows users to provide their real name and a brief bio, and to make both publicly viewable. Users might include other personal data, such as address, telephone number, employer, and social security number. This information could then be viewed and used by others.

We will attempt to keep web site server log data and optional web survey data protected against public disclosure.

Compensation

There is no compensation for participating.

Taking part is voluntary

Taking part in this study is completely voluntary. You do not have to reply to any emails, and your participation or withdrawal will not affect your current or future relationship with Cornell University. If you decide to take part, you are free to withdraw at any time.

Modification of Terms and Conditions of Use

Cornell University reserves the right to revise these Terms and Conditions of Use at any time by updating this page. Your continued use of the site constitutes your agreement to comply with such revisions, so you should visit this page from time to time.

PRIVACY NOTICE

In any sort of report we make public and/or provide to the Federal agency we will not include any information that will make it possible to identify you unless you have elected to make such information publicly visible on the site.

Please note that material you post on Regulation Room or Planning Room is provided voluntarily; it will be publicly visible on the web site. In the case of proposed rules on Regulation Room, it might also be publicly disclosed in a rulemaking docket. For planning discussion on Planning Room, the agency may publicly disclose it in a report or the final plan.

SITE USE/COMMUNITY GUIDELINES

We welcome your use of our site and participation in our research. To keep the experience a positive one for all our users, we ask that you follow the rules outlined below. By submitting content to this site, you are agreeing to the following rules:

You are fully responsible for the content you post. You may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates someone else’s right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, or that is otherwise inappropriate. Furthermore, you may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Language intended to intimidate or to incite violence will not be tolerated.

  • We may monitor user-generated content and we reserve the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that, in our sole judgment, violates these rules. Repeated violation of these rules may result in your being banned from the site.
  • By posting material to this site, you represent that you have the legal right to reproduce, adapt, display, and distribute this material to others. Neither Cornell University nor any other person or entity responsible for this site will be responsible for posted information that may infringe on a third party’s copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights.
  • We may summarize and/or republish the content of your comments. By posting you agree that your comments may be summarized, analyzed, and republished online and in print.
  • You may use this site only for non-commercial purposes. This site prohibits any actions to solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity.
  • You may not interrupt, or attempt to interrupt, the operation of the site in any way. Unauthorized use or modification of any information stored on the site may result in criminal and/or civil prosecution under federal, state and local law. You may not to use the site to carry out any unauthorized alteration of any data or information on the site or to conduct any activity that infringes on the copyright, patent, trademark, service mark or other rights of any person or entity. You may not restrict or inhibit any other user from using and enjoying any service conducted on the site.

Cornell University reserves the right to limit or deny your access to the site or take other appropriate action if you violate any provision of these Guidelines, or if you conduct any activity that violates the rights of any person or entity or that we in our sole discretion deem unlawful, offensive, threatening, abusive, or potentially harmful or malicious.

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS

If you have questions about these provisions, this site or the research program it is part of, you can contact Mary Newhart, Executive Director, Cornell e-Regulatory Research Initiative, mjn3@cornell.edu, 607-255-3660.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your rights as a subject in this study, you may contact the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at 607-255-5138 or access their website at http://www.irb.cornell.edu/. You may also report your concerns or complaints anonymously through the Ethicspoint website or by calling toll free at 1-866-293-3077. Ethicspoint is an independent organization that serves as a liaison between the University and the person bringing the complaint so that anonymity can be ensured.

If you agree to these terms and conditions, we will e-mail you a link to a copy of this consent form for your records.

This form will be kept by the researchers for at least three years beyond the end of the study and was approved by the IRB September 30, 2009; revisions on February 19, 2010, April 12 2010, February 16, 2011, August 18, 2011, and February 28, 2013.

STATEMENT OF CONSENT

I have read the above information, I am at least 18 years of age, I agree to these Terms and Conditions and Site Use/Community Guidelines, and I consent to participate in the research program of which RegRoom, Regulation Room and Planning Room is a part.