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    1. #1
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow Government Web sites are keeping an eye on you


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!

      Government Web sites are keeping an eye on you


      by Declan McCullagh ,
      Staff Writer, CNET News.com

      Dozens of federal agencies are using visitor-tracking cookies that violate long-standing rules designed to protect privacy.
      This is the first story in a two-part investigation. Read the second part here.

      Dozens of federal agencies are tracking visits to U.S. government Web sites in violation of long-standing rules designed to protect online privacy, a CNET News.com investigation shows.

      From the Air Force to the Treasury Department, government agencies are using either "Web bugs" or permanent cookies to monitor their visitors' behavior, even though federal law restricts the practice.
      Chart: Federal Web tracking

      Some departments changed their practices this week after being contacted by CNET News.com. The Pentagon said it wasn't aware that its popular Defenselink.mil portal tracked visitors--in violation of a privacy notice--and said it would fix the problem. So did the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

      "We were not aware of the cookies set to expire in 2016," a Pentagon representative said Wednesday. "All of the cookies we had set with WebTrends were to be strictly (temporary) cookies, and we are taking immediate action." WebTrends is a commercial Web-monitoring service.

      The practice of tracking Web visitors came under fire last week when the National Security Agency was found to use permanent cookies to monitor visitors, a practice it halted after inquiries from the Associated Press. The White House also was criticized last week for employing WebTrends' tracking mechanism that used a tiny GIF image.

      A 2003 government directive says that, in general, "agencies are prohibited from using" Web bugs or cookies to track Web visitors. Both techniques are ways to identify repeat visitors and, depending on the configuration, can be used to track browsing behavior across nongovernment Web sites too.

      "It's evidence that privacy is not being taken seriously," said Peter Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University, referring to the dozens of agencies tracking visitors. "The guidance is very clear." While working in the Clinton administration in 2000, Swire helped to craft an earlier Web tracking policy.

      To detect which agencies engage in electronic tracking, CNET News.com wrote a computer program that connected to every agency listed in the official U.S. Government Manual, and then evaluated what monitoring techniques were used. The expiration dates of the cookies detected ranged from 2006 to 2038, with most of them marked as valid for at least a decade or two.

      Many agencies appeared to have no inkling that their Web sites were configured to record the activities of users. "When the agency set up ColdFusion on our Web server, we set the software to its default value," said William Alberque, a spokesman for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. "The default value, as you saw, creates individual session cookies that can last on your computer for either 30 years or until you delete them." (ColdFusion is Adobe Systems' Web development software.)

      While the practice of setting permanent cookies is generally prohibited, it's usually not clear how they're being used. In the worst case, they could be used to invade privacy by correlating one person's visits to thousands of Web sites. They also can be as innocuous as permitting someone to set a Web site's default language.

      Not all monitoring of Web visitors is prohibited. The 2003 directive provides an exception for federal agencies that have a "compelling need," clearly disclose the tracking and have approval from the agency head. In addition, the directive does not apply to state government Web sites, court Web sites or sites created by members of Congress. (excerpt)

      Read full story
      http://techrepublic.com.com/2100-108...ag=html.alert#
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

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    2. #2
      Mosi Ngozi's Avatar
      Mosi Ngozi is offline Pan-Afrikanist

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      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      Yeah right they were not aware that permanent cookies were installed on visitors computers.For reasons such as those i clear all cookies on a weekly basis.
      You are here because you know something,what you
      know you can't explain,but you feel it.You've felt it
      your entire life; that theres something wrong with the
      world.You don't know what it is but it's there; a
      splinter in your mind... the matrix




    3. #3
      Im The Truth's Avatar
      Im The Truth is offline Organizer

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      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      I can attest to this tracking by the government of people who visit there sites. A couple of years ago when I was gathering information about the government I went to the CIA website or some other kind of Military website and found some good information that I should of save immediately. I left this site went browsing for more information and when I wanted to come back to the government website...it told me I was banned. I was like WTH....how can I get banned? Now I realize I was probably being tracked and the information I was searching for on their site in combination with the informatin I was getting from other websites is what cause them to track me.

      I highly doubt that they were targeting me specifically but there is probably a system that filters people by the content they are searching for on the web.
      "If the enemy is not doing anything against you, you are not doing anything"
      -Ahmed Sékou Touré


      "speak truth, do justice, be kind and do not do evil."
      -Baba Orunmila

      "Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it political? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular - but one must take it simply because it is right."
      --Dr. Martin L. King


      Get Involved!

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