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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 omnicronx on 8/12/2009 4:09:17 PM , Rating: 3
Other than specifically who you are. .
I beg to differ, any website you access with specific account information leaves you far more open. To a government site with no user accounts, you are nothing but an IP address from a non specific geographical location. (which without a warrant they cannot take this IP to get your name, address , etc). Google for example, knows my full name, sex, age, who I work for, and my IP and geographical location,

Now I understand what you really meant is the government has records on all its citizens, but if it has no way to match up these records then what good does it do?

I am all for privacy when needed, but this is really being blown out of proportion as this data is most likely going to be used to figure out which demographics and areas actually use these services. (which makes it easier to make a plan to curtail to the ones that currently do not) Many other countries already do this, I know for a fact StatsCanada does, and this is exactly what it is used for.

RE: Showing their true colors
By GaryJohnson on 8/12/2009 5:44:14 PM , Rating: 4
What I really meant is:
you are nothing but an IP address from a non specific geographical location

to google and the government.

Some government sites do tie your user account to your SSN# or DL#. FAFSA comes to mind.

Google for example, knows my full name, sex, age, who I work for

How does google know that stuff about you? I've googled my name before, but google doesn't know it's my name that I'm googling.

RE: Showing their true colors
By Iaiken on 8/12/2009 5:59:30 PM , Rating: 3
Many other countries already do this, I know for a fact StatsCanada does, and this is exactly what it is used for.

I used develop information publishing systems for the Government of Canada and they all required some means for anonymous usages statistics and business intelligence pertaining to which online services and publications were being used.

This allowed them to assess the usefulness of this online content and gauge it's exposer and how it was being accessed and from where.

Sounds to me that this is much the same... A cookie is just a text file for tracking habits... now if they wanted to introduce a script that downloads a key-logger so they could steal your bank account info in order to fund the 'war on terror', I would be upset...

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