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Data Privacy Policy


The Society for Freshwater Science values its members’ privacy and strives to maintain critical services while diligently protecting private information. SFS only collects and stores information that is crucial to its services and has developed systems and policies to protect member information from misuse. SFS uses members’ data for three primary services: (1) communicate events, programs, news, publications, and policies that are of interest to SFS members, (2) process payment for conference services, journal services, merchandise, and workshops, and (3) understand the demographic make-up of our membership. The SFS Data Privacy Policy covers use of member data by SFS officers and the Board of Directors, SFS staff, SFS committees, and affiliates of the journal Freshwater Science.

SFS cannot provide its core services by itself, and thus has many digital partners with whom they work. Digital partners assist with conference planning, mass communication, technical support, publication support, and database management. Each digital partner is aware of the SFS Data Privacy Policy and will abide by the principles outlined here with regards to data use. This Data Privacy Policy is specific to data that is used by SFS for the three primary services described above, but digital partners of SFS may collect more data than those detailed here. SFS only works with digital partners that have policies about data privacy and advises members to view the digital partners’ privacy policies for more information. The following are digital partners of SFS, their roles, and links to privacy statements for those organizations:

How SFS collects data

By being an SFS member and/or participating in SFS events and activities, members authorize SFS and its partners to collect and use data about their members as described in this policy.  Data are collected on members, meeting attendees, or users of other SFS services by SFS and its digital partners through the following methods:

  • Membership registration
  • Event registration (e.g., annual meeting)
  • Payments or donations to SFS
  • Award applications or nominations
  • Direct surveys
  • Taxonomic certification

What kinds of data does SFS use?

SFS uses member data that can be classified into four categories: 

  • Contact information (e.g., name, email, institution)
  • Professional information (e.g., institution, research interests)
  • Financial information (e.g., credit card number, billing address)
  • Demographic information (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity)

Each category of data is treated differently; contact and professional information are available to committees, society officers, and select digital partners to facilitate communication and professional development. Select contact and professional information are also available to all SFS members through the directory in the membership portal ( Member financial data are tightly controlled and only available to the SFS Treasurer and digital partners that assist with financial transactions. Access to the demographic information is controlled by the Membership and Data Committee and only provided to SFS officers and committee chairs as de-identified data, preferably as summary statistics. For more specifics about what data attributes are collected, contact the chair of Membership and Data Committee (

SFS collects demographic data for efforts related to recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups. These data are used to better understand how the membership changes over time, and to report trends in membership composition to SFS leadership, committees, and general membership. SFS used early versions of these data for benchmarking relative to the general population (Abernathy et al. 2020; Burnett et al. 2022), and these efforts identified demographic groups that are underrepresented in the SFS membership relative to the general population and other STEM disciplines. SFS will continue to collect these data on a rolling basis and compare to previous years of SFS membership. These comparisons can allow SFS to evaluate the past, and inform future recruitment and retention efforts of underrepresented groups. 

Retention and use of data by SFS

SFS strives to secure and protect the private data of its members but cannot fully guarantee the security of member data. SFS will use reasonable technical, administrative, and physical controls to secure the confidentiality of personal information and SFS will review and update their security controls on a regular basis. However, this Data Privacy Policy is not a guarantee that data may not be accessed, disclosed, altered, or destroyed by a breach of security safeguards. If an SFS member becomes aware of any breach of SFS security safeguards, or of any unintentional disclosure of data to an unauthorized third party, please immediately contact the SFS Executive Director at

All private membership data will be stored and accessed from password-protected devices, only used for the intended purposes, and not shared with any third parties or individuals not approved to access the data. Demographic data will be de-identified prior to use and will be shared with outside organizations only as aggregate and summary statistics.

SFS retains member data for only as long as necessary to fulfill our primary services. SFS will retain indefinitely certain de-identified professional and demographic data for purposes of long-term study of membership trends. If there is no legal basis or other requirement to retain data and after there has been no activity from an individual member for 48 months, those data are no longer needed by SFS and will be purged.

Sharing of data outside of SFS

SFS will not intentionally share membership data in raw format with any organizations outside of the digital partners mentioned above. SFS will never sell member contact information to third parties. An exception may be made to this data sharing policy in cases where SFS is legally obligated to share data (e.g., financial data) with a government agency to conform to legal requirements. Demographic data in aggregate and de-identified format may be shared outside of SFS in the form of public presentation and/or publications. De-identified demographic data may be shared with other scientific societies (e.g., Consortium of Aquatic Science Societies) at the discretion of the SFS president if these data will advance broader recruitment and retention initiatives. SFS participates in joint meetings with other scientific societies, which may require SFS to share members’ contact information with other scientific societies or their conference management service providers.

Policy for updates

The SFS Data Privacy Policy was most recently updated by the Membership and Data Committee on August 9, 2022, and approved by the Board of Directors on September 15, 2022. SFS retains the right to update this privacy policy at any time, but members will be alerted to any substantial changes via email in the SFS Monthly Splash. 

Acceptance of the terms

By joining SFS and/or using the websites affiliated with SFS members and users are agreeing to the terms in this privacy statement.

Contact information

For questions about the SFS Data Privacy Policy please contact the SFS Executive Director at

To update any personal data please access the SFS Member Portal at

For any other questions about SFS Membership please contact USU Event Services at 


Approved by the SFS Board of Directors on 15 September 2022.