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  (Source: Puppet Government)
Government could reap a wealth of information from its citizens

Every day millions across the country navigate to government webpages, to read pertinent information. Since 2000 that access has been safeguarded, thanks to a prohibition on government websites using cookies or other tracking technology to track users.  Agency exceptions could only be granted under cases of "compelling need".

Now the Obama administration is looking to overturn that prohibition and potentially begin harvesting a wealth of data on its citizen's activities.  Under the plan, the prohibition would be replaced with a set of privacy provisions.  Aides say that it would increase government transparency and "increase public involvement".

The measure, though, has many opponents.  The American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Michael Macleod-Ball commented that the measure would "allow the mass collection of personal information of every user of a federal government website."

Other opponents dislike that the government may be looking to revoke the protections at the request of search-engine giant Google and other parties.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center and Electronic Frontier Foundation, both of which oppose the measure, pointed to a February 19 contract with Google and an unnamed federal agency over an exemption to use the YouTube player.

EPIC retrieved the proposed changes, negotiated by the General Services Administration, through a Freedom of Information Act request and says they "expressly waive those rules or guidelines as they may apply to Google."  States EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg, "Our primary concern is that the GSA has failed to protect the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.  The expectation is they should be complying with the government regulations, not that the government should change its regulations to accommodate these companies."

Currently, government content is banned from having tracking cookies, but third-party content, such as YouTube videos on federal websites may have tracking cookies.  Google spokeswoman Christine Chen declined to discuss the new rules, but thanked the government for its use of YouTube, stating, "[The use of YouTube] is just one example of how government and citizens communicate more effectively online, and we are proud of having worked closely with the White House to provide privacy protections for users."



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RE: Showing their true colors
By rs1 on 8/12/2009 3:17:04 PM , Rating: 1
Actually I think this article is mostly alarmist nonsense. They're not talking about any sort of broad "web-tracking plan" as the headline suggests. They're basically talking about doing the equivalent of installing Google Analytics onto government websites to track user information. I don't see what the big deal is, and if they had just made such a change under the covers, without announcing it, I bet very few people would have noticed or cared. If you really don't want them to track you, just turn off your cookies (or stay off their websites altogether).

As someone else mentioned, I find it hard to believe that people thought that the government wasn't already doing this on their own websites. Normally, I'd be the first person to start complaining about the government invading people's privacy, but that's just not what's happening here. Government websites are property of the government, and they can operate their webspace however they want. Anyone who doesn't like it can just avoid using their websites, and then their online activity will not be tracked by the government in any way.

Now, if they were suggesting that all non-government websites would be required to collect stats about their users, and turn those stats over to the government, then *that* would be something to complain about. As-is, however, this is much ado about nothing.


RE: Showing their true colors
By SiliconJon on 8/12/2009 3:22:30 PM , Rating: 3
"stay off their websites altogether"

This is our government we're talking about. If that is one of your options you may want to give another analysis to the issue. Maybe? No? Ok.


RE: Showing their true colors
By Some1ne on 8/12/2009 3:39:40 PM , Rating: 1
Well actually, if people are that paranoid about a little tracking cookie, then they should probably just stay off the Internet altogether (or learn to use Tor).

Hell, even DailyTech is using Google Analytics to track us right now. Oh no, my privacy, it's been stolen by the devious urchin tracker!


RE: Showing their true colors
By Pythias on 8/13/2009 9:14:52 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Well actually, if people are that paranoid about a little tracking cookie, then they should probably just stay off the Internet altogether (or learn to use Tor).


Screw you.

quote:
Hell, even DailyTech is using Google Analytics to track us right now. Oh no, my privacy, it's been stolen by the devious urchin tracker!


Not if you know how to edit a host file.


RE: Showing their true colors
By Steve1981 on 8/12/2009 3:39:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Government websites are property of the government, and they can operate their webspace however they want.


Government is not some private entity such as a corporation or an individual. In spite of what seemingly the vast majority of politicians appear to think, "they" are public servants, and cannot just do as they please.


RE: Showing their true colors
By MadMan007 on 8/12/2009 3:43:30 PM , Rating: 4
Government websites are not 'property of the government' they are 'property of the people' because we allow the government to govern.


RE: Showing their true colors
By rs1 on 8/12/2009 3:58:16 PM , Rating: 3
Well then the case becomes even easier. If I were making a website, then I would most definitely instrument it with some form of tracking/analytics software, because it's just idiotic to have a website and then have no visibility into who's visiting it, how they are using it, what flows they are interacting with, how many return visits I get, the average time on site, and so on and so forth. In fact, it seems distinctly possible that the lack of such information is part of the reason why most government websites are currently a barely usable mess.

Regardless, I would suggest that no sane web developer would really prefer to be without any sort of analytics support, and that if government websites really are "property of the people" then we should defer judgement to those people who actually are web developers. As such, it become a foregone conclusion that analytics makes perfect sense on government websites, and the topic is still a non-issue. Either the government owns them, and can operate them however it wants, or the people do and they should be operated in a way that's consistent with how any reasonably tech-savvy individual would operate their own website. Either way you end up with tracking/analytics.


RE: Showing their true colors
By MadMan007 on 8/12/2009 5:50:39 PM , Rating: 3
Then all the information and every single way in which it's used, cited, or shared must be made public as well. Then 'we the people' as the owners would be in the same position a tech-savvy web developer would have control over his analytics.


RE: Showing their true colors
By SiliconDoc on 8/13/2009 9:19:03 AM , Rating: 3
And there of course is the "catch". There isn't a chance in H E doubletoothpicks the government will make the data public, nor tell us how they use it, nor any of that.
We will instead get a " What? You don't trust us ??!!? We use this to "provide cradle to grave services for all!"!
:-) In a loving and caring manner, of course. You are FAMILY.
[ then the repubs or dems will accuse eachother quite legitimately of misuing the info - with valid evidence - against of course whichever party is in charge at the moment - at which point the leading party of the moment will deny everything, until they switch places and it reverses. ]
" You must be an insane nutjob to think anything else ! Maybe you need some social worker counseling, or medication! We can help you with that! "
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Then the party out of power, accesses the "government data" and uses it to their benefit as well - re-election, redirection of another tenth of the economy, social control and manipulation, population databases, TAKEOVER of the coming census by the Executive Branch, manipulating voting districts for consolidation and party control (making deals between the parties for such) etc...
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Of course, it's ALWAYS "nothing to be concerned about".
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Funny how the one person said " you make it sound like it's all encompassing" - but we all know that nowadays, once a PRECEDENT is established at a single .gov website, with the modern communication at lightning speed - EVERY *.gov website will immediately "have the right" to do the same, and MORE. (as the case goes, that MORE is "improvements" to "implementation").
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When they all scream we will be newly open and transparent as everyone knows this secrecy is terrbile, and then NONE of them are, you really have to be an idiot to buy a word from their pieholes anymore.


RE: Showing their true colors
By invidious on 8/12/2009 4:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
The government does not have rights and it certainly can not do whatever it wants. Your misinformed view is exactly the kind of thinking that leads to government running wild and trampling our rights.

The goverment wants to take away your privacy and offers no reasoning as to what you stand to gain from it. Why on earth would you accept that? Someone stands to benifit or it wouldn't be happening, and if that someone isn't you then you should be questioning the move.


RE: Showing their true colors
By omnicronx on 8/12/2009 4:24:29 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The government does not have rights and it certainly can not do whatever it wants.
How can you say that? That's the entire point of democracy. Everytime a bill is passed it is the voice of the people. You express you voice by voting for a representative. Thus one would think that as long as it within the law and the government can get enough support than surely they can do what they please. Don't like it, change your vote next time around. Every decision made in congress is indirectly voicing your opinion.

Furthermore what exactly do you think this proposed plan is going to allow? You will merely be an IP address associated with viewing habits and a geographical location. Hardly an evasion of privacy.

I really don't see the problem here, worst case scenario is this plan does not help anything, best case is they are able to curtail their services and information to those that actually use it, or perhaps changing things to curtail to those that currently don't.

Either way the only way to associate your name with your IP address is a warrant, and this proposed plan does not change that.


RE: Showing their true colors
By ChristopherO on 8/12/2009 5:48:01 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Everytime a bill is passed it is the voice of the people


Not at all. There are two horrible choices, and one of them always gets elected. If there were a third option on every ballot, "none of the above" and that position winnning would result in the seat being left open for a term...

Well, congress would be a big empty building with a handful of janitors employed to keep it clean.

I tend to be of the opinion that every vote, everywhere is always designed as a pay-off for supporters. Ideological, or fiduciary. Sadly I don't trust any bill created by either party. I do have an ideological slant, but everyone running always has an act to grind, and it doesn't matter what the letter next to your name happens to be.

About the topic at hand -- I do believe in privacy, but I seriously don't think the government enabling cookies on websites means a hill of beans. They probably aren't bright enough to use the information anyway. And heck, if they really wanted to abuse our rights, they would have the NSA track everyone.

Fundamentally though, I believe that the government shouldn't have any tracking of the citizens. Everyone forgets *we* employ *them*. Allowing them to track *us* is like an employee snooping around the HR files of their boss.


RE: Showing their true colors
By ChristopherO on 8/12/2009 5:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
blah, I mean "ax to grind". Darn lack of edit key. If only I worked for DT, I could post an article and change it 40 times after publication... :)


RE: Showing their true colors
By SiliconDoc on 8/13/2009 8:37:09 AM , Rating: 4
Don't apologize, you're talking to someone who doesn't know the meaning of the word "curtail", and believes we live in a "democracy".
The little noobers of the day have sucked up the commie propaganda like sponges for quite some time.
If they had paid attention, they would know the Founders abhorred "democracy" - that the government has NO RIGHTS, and cannot take rights away from citizens EXCEPT by VIOLATING the rule of law - which they attempt in many ways to do more and more often since our founding.
The spit and vinegar will come out of that one as soon as he/she experiences the adverse affects of "democracy", which likely cannot be too far into the future.
USofA Founding: Man was created with inalienable rights, and government is formed TO PROTECT THOSE. The government does not, in the American version and absolute expectionalism above all other methods, acquire rights, nor a "majority voice of the people" to "do their will" - since that will may also be to TAKE AWAY RIGHTS inherent to their fellow man. ( HENCE the current argument that "healthcare" is a RIGHT - if the government gets enough of the "mob" to AGREE - the government then claims not just that it is here to PROTECT that right, BUT TO ADMINISTER IT'S VERY EXISTENCE - hence PROVIDE and TAKE AWAY that right at it's WHIM - at it's pleasure, at it's taxing or monetary printing inflation rate or DEMAND that other individuals WORK under xx wages or orders to make that "RIGHT" occur.)
Developing an endless list of "RIGHTS" the government can assume power to "protect" is also DANGEROUS.
If one assumes (falsely and naively) the "democratic group of people" never make a "tyrannical mistake or decision", it's just fine to screech "your voice is represented" so what are you worried about ? However, reality a long time ago taught the Founders that the "mob" will take away others and (hence)their own rights just as easily as some lunatic dictator or elite power group.
We live in a Constitutional Republic, not a "democracy", and in our REPUBLIC the rule of law declares neither the government nor any other actor may take away those rights which are inalienable, and permanent FOR ALL INDIVIDUALS, FOREVER.
They don't get to take them away because "it's a good idea" or because " the reps were voted in and therefore the people have spoken" - unless they are BREAKING our form of government, ignoring the rule of law, and the Constitution, and doing that which our government was designed to NEVER HAVE THE POWER TO DO.
People, especially the younger people, seem to have never learned such, and are very happy to preach exactly the opposite - as if popular opinion or a "majority of 51%" over 49% - "have the right" to "do what they decide" to everyone else, and even (then)to themselves.
Nope, not in this nation.
The government acquires rights by consent? Not in the USofA, sorry.
DO NOT APOLOGIZE.
The government has ZERO rights, you and I and "curtail" have ALL the rights, and the government's ONLY duty is TO PROTECT THOSE, not to abscond with them to use "as their own" "for our own good".
NEVER APOLOGIZE for being free, nor knowing what it means to be so.



RE: Showing their true colors
By SiliconDoc on 8/13/2009 12:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
US Constitution, Article IV, Section 4: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,
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Uhh, gee... that kinda blanks out the "democracy" and "majority rules".


RE: Showing their true colors
By Pythias on 8/13/2009 9:19:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Furthermore what exactly do you think this proposed plan is going to allow? You will merely be an IP address associated with viewing habits and a geographical location. Hardly an evasion of privacy.


Er they ask your isp who your ip was assigned to and where they live?


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