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The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (“EMBL”) is a basic research institute funded by public research monies from more than 25 member states, including much of Europe and Israel, and two associate members, Argentina and Australia.

Research at EMBL is conducted by more than 80 independent groups covering the spectrum of molecular biology. The Laboratory operates from six sites across Europe: the main Laboratory in Heidelberg/Germany, and Outstations in Hinxton/England (the European Bioinformatics Institute), Grenoble/France, Hamburg/Germany, Rome/Italy and Barcelona/Spain. The cornerstones of EMBL’s mission are: to perform basic research in molecular biology; to train scientists, students and visitors at all postgraduate levels; to offer vital services to scientists in the member states; to develop new instruments and methods in the life sciences and to actively engage in technology transfer activities.

EMBL operates a number of websites in pursuance of its mission. In addition, scientists and others working at EMBL may publish their personal or group websites under the umbrella of the EMBL website. This EMBL Website Privacy Policy (“Policy”) describes our practices for handling personal information and communicated through official EMBL websites or received via e-mail.

EMBL is committed to safeguarding your personal information. Some EMBL web pages contain hyperlinks to websites owned and operated by third parties. These third party websites have their own privacy policies, including cookies, and we urge you to review them. They will govern the use of personal information you submit or that is collected by cookies when you visit these websites. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the privacy practices of such third party websites and your use of such websites is at your own risk.  

i. Categories of personal data collected

When you interact with EMBL through our websites or via e-mail, we receive personal data relating to you or to someone we deem has authorised you to provide this information to us.

Typical cases where we collect your personal data include when you register for an event organised by us, when you apply for an open position at EMBL, when you subscribe to one of our newsletters or publications, when you use one of the scientific services we provide or when you interact directly with us via e-mail for scientific, organisational or other purposes.

When you participate in, access or sign up to any of our scientific services, activities or online content, for instance if you create an account with one of our services, we may receive personal information about you. Depending on the activity, this can consist of information such as your name, email address and more rarely postal address, or your telephone or mobile number. In particular, if you submit data to one of our databases (e.g. the European Nucleotide Archive) or create an account on one of our project portals we require a valid email address to create the account. By submitting your details, you enable us to provide you with the services, activities or online content you select.

We also use cookies (see section vi below for details) and collect IP addresses (an IP address is a number that can uniquely identify a specific computer or other network device on the internet) from visitors to our websites.

Categories of personal data collected include the following:

  • Email
  • Name and address details
  • Phone details
  • Job function and employer details/institutional affiliation
  • Gender and nationality for statistical reporting purposes in respect of our grant giving bodies, as well as for recruitment statistics along with an applicant’s age
  • Dietary and/or medical requirements in connection with your registration for an event
  • Areas of scientific interest
  • CV, certificates, performance assessments, reference letters and similar information for recruitment purposes

ii. Purposes of personal data collection

EMBL uses your personal data for a limited number of purposes connected to our mission.

Where we consider using your personal data for other purposes we will ensure that we notify you first. You will also be given the opportunity to withhold or withdraw your consent for the use of your personal data for purposes other than those listed below.

Purposes for which we may use your personal data include the following:

  • Subscriptions (Newsletters, publications, event announcements)
  • Alumni activities
  • Recruitment
  • Conference registration
  • Marketing for EMBL activities
  • Scientific collaborations
  • Registration of users of our or shared facilities, including statistical reporting thereof
  • Scientific services, activities or online content and to deal with your requests and enquiries
  • "Service administration purposes", which means that we may contact you for reasons related to the service, activity or online content you have signed up for, (e.g. to provide you with password reminders or to notify you that a particular service, activity or online content has been suspended for maintenance)
  • To contact you about a database submission you have made, including any content you provide
  • To provide you with information about our services, activities or online content
  • To personalise the way our content is presented to you (e.g. if the first thing you look at every day on our website is our recent news items, we may present this information or a link to it on your homepage)
  • To use IP addresses to identify the location of users, to block disruptive use, and to establish the number of visits from different countries
  • To analyse and improve the services offered on our websites. In order to provide you with the most user-friendly navigation experience, we may also use information in aggregate (so that no individuals are identified) for strategic development purposes.

iii. Categories of recipients to whom personal data may be disclosed

EMBL will keep your personal data confidential. We will only disclose it when legally required or permitted, or when necessary in order to fulfil the purpose for which you have provided us your information.

Categories of recipients to whom we may be disclosing your personal data include the following:

  • Service providers which are required to keep your information confidential who process your information on our behalf
  • Scientific review committees
  • From time to time, we may share some information with our collaborators, for instance the WTSI, NCBI, DDBJ, SIB, PIR, etc. When submitting data to our databases you opt in to submitting some personal information and we assume that you have permission from your institution to submit these data.
  • Partner institutions, for example DESY in Hamburg, the ESRF in Grenoble, in order to manage access to shared facilities, or more generally to collaborate scientifically
  • Law enforcement and government bodies, in exceptional circumstances
  • As described in section VII below.

iv. Period for which personal data will be stored

EMBL will hold your personal data on our systems for as long as is considered necessary for the relevant purpose(s) you provided us your details, or as long as is set out in (i) any relevant contract you hold with EMBL (ii) in an EMBL Document Retention Policy, or (iii) applicable legislation.

If you cancel your user account in any of our databases or web portals we will ensure that your personal information is either deleted or that your information will no longer be visible to others.

When you contribute data to an EMBL database (i.e. the European Nucleotide Archive) this information enters the public domain and we are likely to store it permanently.  


v. When will EMBL contact me?

Communication and collaboration are essential for scientific progress. There are therefore a variety of situations where we may contact you. 

  • In relation to any service, activity or online content you have signed up for in order to ensure that we can deliver the services to you
  • When you have opted in to receive further correspondence
  • In relation to any data or annotation you have submitted to our databases
  • In relation to any contribution you have submitted to us, e.g. on our support help desk or via voicemail message
  • To invite you to participate in surveys about our services (participation is always voluntary)
  • For scientific marketing and outreach purposes where you have specifically agreed to this
  • To manage a recruitment process
  • To handle registration for and attendance at one of our events
  • To follow-up on a specific request you have made to us

vi. Cookies

a. What is a cookie?

A cookie is a small amount of data, which often includes a unique identifier that is sent to your computer or mobile phone (referred to here as a "device") browser from a website's computer and is stored on your device's hard drive. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser's preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other websites. Many websites do this whenever a user visits their website in order to track online traffic flows.

On EMBL's websites (including EMBL-EBI’s websites), cookies record information about your online preferences and allow us to tailor the websites to your interests. Users have the opportunity to set their devices to accept all cookies, to notify them when a cookie is issued, or not to receive cookies at any time. The last of these means that the user cannot then be provided with certain personalised features and accordingly the user may not be able to take full advantage of all of the website's features. Each browser is different, so check the "Help" menu of your browser to learn how to change your cookie preferences.

During the course of any visit to an EMBL website, the pages you see, along with a cookie, are downloaded to your device. Many websites do this, because cookies enable website publishers to do useful things like find out whether the device (and probably its user) has visited the website before. This is done on a repeat visit by checking to see, and finding, the cookie left there on the last visit.

b. How do we use cookies?

Information supplied by cookies can help us to analyse the profile of our visitors and help us to provide you with a better user experience. For example, if on a previous visit to our website you went to our nucleotide data pages, we might find this out from your cookie and highlight information about the nucleotide databases on your second and subsequent visits.

c. Third party cookies on our pages

Please note that during your visits to our websites you may notice some cookies that are not related to EMBL. When you visit a page with content embedded from, for example, YouTube, you may be presented with cookies from these websites. EMBL does not control the dissemination of these cookies. You should check the third party websites for more information about these.

d. EMBL cookies and how to reject cookies?

A list of the main cookies that EMBL websites set (and what each is used for) together with ways to minimise the number of cookies you receive can be found at EMBL's Cookie List and How To Reject Cookies.  


vii. Offensive or inappropriate content on our websites

If you post or send offensive, inappropriate or objectionable content anywhere on or to our websites or otherwise engage in any disruptive behaviour on any of our services, we may use your personal information to stop such behaviour.

Where we reasonably believe that you are or may be in breach of any of the laws of the country of origin of your IP address (e.g. because content you have posted may be defamatory), we may use your personal information to inform relevant third parties such as your employer, school email/internet provider or law enforcement agencies about the content and your behaviour.

Our community guidelines provide further information related to user-generated content posted on our websites as well as other channels not hosted by EMBL, such as social media.


viii. Your choices

EMBL is an intergovernmental organisation, entrusted with a number of privileges and immunities necessary to fulfil its mission, including the inviolability of EMBL premises and archives.

Within these limits, you are granted certain rights in relation to your personal data.  

  • Whenever you provide your personal data to us through our websites, we will indicate in or near the relevant website form whether provision of certain data elements is optional or mandatory, and potential consequences of not providing certain data elements.
  • You have the right to object at any time and free of charge to the receipt of any information from EMBL and to unsubscribe from any information services. Please note that we may have to retain a copy of some of your personal data in order to comply with your opt-out request.
  • You may request access to your personal data.
  • You may update or amend (“rectify”) your personal data.
  • In some instances, you may object to the further processing of your personal data.

ix. Important Information:

EMBL is an intergovernmental organisation headquartered in Germany, having outstations in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Due to the way our organisation is set up, your personal data may be transferred across country borders but within the EMBL structure.  


x. Security

EMBL has implemented appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security which we deem appropriate, taking into account the categories of data we collect and the way we process it. 


xi. How to reach us

You may contact EMBL at any time should you have any questions in relation to this Website Privacy Policy, or in the event you wish to exercise any of your rights, within the limits as described herein. 

Contact Web Support.


xii. Changes to this document

This Website Privacy Policy may be updated from time to time so you may wish to check it each time you submit personal information to EMBL.

The date of the most recent revision will appear on this page. If you do not agree to these changes, please do not continue to use EMBL websites to submit personal data to EMBL. If material changes are made to this document we will notify you by placing a prominent notice on the website.

We will also make available an archived copy of the previous Website Privacy Policy for comparison.

Last updated: 25 May 2018 (link to EMBL's position paper on GDPR added)