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Data Retention Policy


Data is important to ecommerce websites such as ours. It is one of the ways we can learn and grow as a service and product provider and how we can help make our products and websites better for those who use them to create, learn, and share. At the same time, we are committed to keeping your personal data for the shortest possible time that is consistent with the maintenance, understanding, and improvement of the Foldscope Sites, and our obligations under applicable U.S. law.

This document helps explain how we fulfill this commitment, by describing our guidelines for data retention, system design, and ongoing auditing and maintenance. These guidelines will be updated over time to reflect current retention practices. 

To what data do these guidelines apply?

These guidelines apply to all non-public data we collect from Foldscope sites covered by the Privacy Policy.

How long do we retain non-public data?

Unless otherwise indicated, we retain the following types of data for no more than the following periods of time:

Data type



Maximum Retention Period

Non Public Personal information

Collected automatically from a user

· IP addresses of site visitors (operational data)

· IP addresses of A/B test subjects (analytical data)

· Identifying user-agent information of site visitors

After at most 90 days, it will be deleted, aggregated, or de-identified

Account settings

· Email address

Until user deletes/changes the account setting.

Non-personal information

Collected automatically from a user

· Data collected by our site about a user account's activity (e.g., first time a user goes to an edit page, date and time that a user verifies their email address)


· Data collected by our site and associated with their user ID (e.g., A/B test data for marketing purposes)

After at most 90 days, it will be deleted, aggregated, or de-identified

Provided by a user

· Logs of terms entered into the site's search box, or terms within prefilled links to the search engine that have been followed by user navigation

After at most 90 days, it will be deleted, aggregated, or de-identified

Provided by a user

· Language

Until user deletes/changes the account setting.

Non-personal information not associated with a user account(1)

Collected automatically from various users

· Counts of how many times certain events have occurred (e.g. successful HTTPS requests)


Pages browsed by readers

Collected automatically from a reader

· A list of pages visited by readers

After at most 90 days, if retained at all, then only in aggregate form

  1. For the purposes of this table, "user account" means username, user ID; "reader" means visitor to a Foldscope page.

Foldscope hosts its main website and the Microcosmos website as part of our mission to collect, document, and freely distribute microscopic images. Accordingly, when you make a contribution to any Foldscope Site, including on user or discussion pages, you are creating a permanent, public record of every piece of content added, removed, or altered by you. The page history will show when your contribution or deletion was made, as well as your username. We may use your public contributions, either aggregated with the public contributions of others or individually, to create new features or data-related products for you, or to learn more about how the Foldscope Sites are used. If you mistakenly included your personal information in a contribution to a Foldscope Site and you would like to have it removed, please consult our privacy policy.

If you choose to register for an account with the Foldscope microcosmos site, you will be asked to select a username. Usernames are retained until the user requests that the account be renamed.

For further information, see our Privacy Policy.


For the purposes of these guidelines: 

"Personal information" means information you provide us or information we collect from you that identifies or could be used to personally identify you. For details, please see the Foldscope Privacy Policy.

Some examples of "public information" would include:

(a) any personal information you disclose publicly on the Foldscope Sites, such as your real name.

Some examples of types of information that are considered to be "nonpublic information" include:

(a) your IP address

(b) your email address, if you provided one to us during account registration (but didn’t post it publicly); and

(c) your general location information as might be derived from your IP address, if you have not posted it publicly. 

Data is "de-identified" when it has been aggregated or otherwise retained in a manner such that it can no longer be used to identify the user.

Exceptions to these guidelines

If we make exceptions to these guidelines, we will notify you by describing the exception on this page.

Data may be retained in system backups for longer periods of time, not to exceed 5 years.

When we conduct a survey or other research, we will provide you with a privacy statement specifying the term of retention for information (including personal information) collected through your participation in such research. In certain cases, information may be retained indefinitely for educational, development, or other related purposes, unless otherwise indicated in the relevant privacy statement. Such information may be retained in raw, aggregated, or de-identified form until we receive a request from the participant to delete the information.

In rare cases, we, or particular users with certain administrative rights as described in our Privacy Policy, may need to retain your personal information, including your IP address and user agent information, for as long as reasonably necessary (which may be longer than the period described in the table above) to:

  • enforce or investigate potential violations of our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, or any corporate policies;
  • investigate and defend ourselves against legal threats or actions;
  • help protect against vandalism and abuse, fight harassment of other users, and generally try to minimize disruptive behavior on the Foldscope Sites;
  • prevent imminent and serious bodily harm or death to a person, or to protect our organization, employees, contractors, users, or the public; or
  • detect, prevent, or otherwise assess and address potential spam, malware, fraud, abuse, unlawful activity, and security or technical concerns. 

Audits and improvements

Foldscope is committed to continuous evaluation and improvement of these guidelines, and to periodic audits in order to identify such improvements. As we make changes to existing and systems, we will update these guidelines to reflect our changing practices.

Design of new systems

In order to support these data retention periods and our Privacy Policy, new tools and systems implemented by Foldscope will be designed with privacy in mind. This will include:

  • inclusion of these data retention guidelines as requirements during the design process;
  • legal consultation during the design and development process; and
  • inclusion of privacy considerations in the code review process. 

Ongoing handling of new information

Despite our best efforts in designing and deploying new systems, we may occasionally record personal information in a way that does not comply with these guidelines. When we discover such an oversight, we will promptly comply with the guidelines by deleting, aggregating, or de-identifying the information as appropriate.

Contact us

If you think that these guidelines have potentially been breached, or if you have questions or comments about compliance with the guidelines, please contact us at privacy@foldscope.com