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Obama's CIO Hopes to Unjar Internet Cookies

By Cecilia Kang
These days, surfing Amazon.com can feel like visiting the corner pharmacist who remembers all your past ailments. The online retailer recalls that you recently bought "Harry Potter," so suggests you read "Twilight." It reminds you of the other J.K. Rowling books you left in your shopping cart -- and then tries to sell you wizard Halloween costumes.

By using a technology called cookies, which track where Internet users travel over the Web, sites like Amazon.com are able to draw a portrait of a customer and sell products based on that data. Now, the Obama administration is thinking about using the same technology to track visitors to Federal agency Web sites.

Are you a frequent visitor to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Most Wanted List? The FBI may soon know. If you've recently looked up the latest on the Swine Flu outbreak and how to treat symptoms with antiviral drugs, the Center of Disease Control will have that information from cookies left on your browser from visiting their Web site.

The practice using cookies, which has been controversial because of concerns over user privacy, is being revisited by the nation's Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, as part of the administration's push to revise the Web and technology policies of federal agencies and make government more transparent. Internet cookies are currently prohibited on federal agency Web sites unless approved by the head of an agency because of a "compelling need," Kundra wrote in a blog post last Friday.

"The goal of this review is to develop a new policy that allows the federal government to continue to protect the privacy of people who visit federal Web sites while, at the same time, making these Web sites more user-friendly, providing better customer service, and allowing for enhanced Web analytics," he wrote, along with co-author Michael Fitzpatrick, the associate administrator of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The administration is opening up the debate to the public. Got opinions? Submit them through www.whitehouse.gov/open by Aug. 10.

Posted at 2:35 PM ET on Jul 27, 2009  | Category:  New Media
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Comments

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Although privacy is a vital part of human space, it is also a point for the religious mentality to play it's paranoia complex. Obama needs to get some help before he is a Bush equivalent & starts looking for any sucker to stick a conspiracy charge onto. It doesn't take much to excite Americans with a conspiracy theory.

Posted by: Atheistno1 | July 28, 2009 3:53 PM

I am not worried that there would be cookies on the IRS web site or the FBI. They are probably less capable of make nefarious use of the information gleaned from cookies that the other dozens of sites I visit each week. If they come up with information about issues or questions I have had recently than I am probably better informed.

For those who are paranoid, I am watching you!

Posted by: lmertz | July 28, 2009 11:35 AM

People who capitalize more than one word have in my experience little to say of a serious nature. It is similar to news on CNN or Fox News scintillatingly boring.

Posted by: Gator-ron | July 27, 2009 8:26 PM

Before you comment, I suggest searching Wikipedia for "HTTP-cookie" for a better explanation of what they are and why they are useful than presented in this post.

BTW, doesn't the Washington Post use cookies and don't we like that?

Posted by: bharshaw | July 27, 2009 7:37 PM

COOKIES -- AND 'SPOOFED PAGES' AND REAL-TIME CONNECTION HIJACKING WITH REMOTE COMPUTING SOFTWARE, AND MORE.

***

BULLETIN:

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT IS USING WARRANTLESS SURVEILLANCE AS A PRETEXT TO DISRUPT AND CENSOR THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS 'TARGETED' BY IDEOLOGICALLY-DRIVEN 'PROGRAMS OF PERSONAL DESTRUCTION'.

Wake up, Mr. President, because the federal officials operating a "multi-agency coordinated action program" are using the telecommunications system as a WEAPON against the American people...

...a telecommunications system that has been WEAPONIZED -- capable of delivering debilitating microwave/laser radiation "directed energy weapon" attacks ANYWHERE, 24/7.

What do have your Bush holdovers told you about this?

THIS IS AS SIGNIFICANT AS THE INVENTION OF THE ATOM BOMB, OR GUNPOWDER. BUT WHO'S PAYING ATTENTION?

http://nowpublic.com/world/govt-fusion-center-spying-pretext-harass-and-censor
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 27, 2009 5:22 PM

to view a partial list of crimes committed by FBI agents over 1500 pages long see
http://www.forums.signonsandiego.com/showthread.php?t=59139

to view a partial list of FBI agents arrested for pedophilia see
http://www.dallasnews.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3574

Posted by: mabumford | July 27, 2009 3:13 PM

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