Government Web sites follow visitors' movements
January 5, 2006, 4:00 AM PST
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
"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.
Agency Name Cookie Type Expires Hostname
Air Force Webtrends.com 2016 af.mil
Commerce Department Statcounter.com 2011 ogc.doc.gov
Defense Department Webtrends.com 2016 defenselink.mil
Election Assist. Comm. Own 2007 eac.gov
Energy Department Statcounter.com 2011 www.er.doe.gov
General Services Admin. Own 2035 apps.fss.gsa.gov
Office of Personnel Mgmt Own 2037 leadership.opm.gov
Treasury Department Own 2035 ots.treas.gov
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