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The NSA's unpalatable cookies

Posted on Mon, Jan 09, 2006 at 11:09 AM by Andrew Chadwick

A story emerged over the New Year period about US government websites' use of tracking cookies. Such "persistent" cookies are in violation of a code of conduct issued during the late Clinton era regulating what information government websites should be permitted to gather about web surfers. This appears to have been updated by the Office of Management and Budget in 2003, but includes mention of permitting persistent cookies where there is a "compelling need".

If you wanted to be conspiratorial, you could argue that the NSA knew about this all along, but it might be pointed out that the NSA and other agencies probably have better ways to gather information.

Also, this is more a product of the way government websites have emerged. They are an ad hoc patchwork of literally tens of thousands of sites. Many of these are developed by outsource firms or departmental hobbyists who are simply not aware of codes of conduct such as those governing cookies.

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