Free Markets, Free People

cookies


Aren’t We Glad We Got “Change”?

Via Ace, apparently a 9 year old federal ban is being lifted. Unfortunately it’s not a ban on off-shore drilling or school vouchers being lifted. It’s a ban on the federal government collecting information on you that’s being lifted:

The White House is reversing a nine-year-old policy forbidding the use of tracking cookies on those who visit federal websites.

You know its a problem when even the ACLU is alarmed:

Since 2000, it has been the policy of the federal government not to use such technology. But the OMB is now seeking to change that policy and is considering the use of cookies for tracking web visitors across multiple sessions and storing their unique preferences and surfing habits. Though this is a major shift in policy, the announcement of this program consists of only a single page from the federal register that contains almost no detail.

This is a sea change in government privacy policy,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Without explaining this reversal of policy, the OMB is seeking to allow the mass collection of personal information of every user of a federal government website. Until the OMB answers the multitude of questions surrounding this policy shift, we will continue to raise our strenuous objections.”

The use of cookies allows a website to differentiate between users and build a database of each user’s viewing habits and the information they share with the site. Since web surfers frequently share information like their name or email address (if they’ve signed up for a service) or search request terms, the use of cookies frequently allows a user’s identity and web surfing habits to be linked. In addition, websites can allow third parties, such as advertisers, to also place cookies on a user’s computer.

“Americans rely on the information from the federal government to research politics, medical issues and legal requirements. The OMB is now asking to retain the personal and identifiable information we leave behind,” said Christopher Calabrese, Counsel for the ACLU Technology and Liberty Project. “No American should have to sacrifice privacy or risk surveillance in order to access free government information. No policy change should be adopted without wide ranging debate including information on the restrictions and uses of cookies as well as impact on privacy.”

No matter how benign the original intent of this change may be, I don’t want government collecting information on anything I do on the internet. And it isn’t a matter of “if you don’t do bad things you shouldn’t care”. I do care regardless of what I do. It is simply none of the government’s business.

As for “benign intent”, who the heck knows who will have access to what is essentially private information and what they will do with it. We have privacy laws in this country which restricts government from collecting private information. I believe this to be in violation of the intent of those laws. And, for once, I’m in agreement with the ACLU – “No policy change should be adopted.” I’ll go one further though – “No policy change should be adopted, period. No “debate” necessary.”

~McQ

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet