Just an Online Minute... Government Cookies
The report found that 64 federal websites used "unauthorized files" - better know as cookies - that allow them to track the browsing and buying habits of Internet users. The departments of Education, Treasury, Energy, Interior and Transportation used cookies, as did NASA and the General Services Administration, the report said.
The scope of the problem hasn't been nailed down. For example, the report said NASA hasn't determined how many websites it operates so officials don't know how many might be gathering the information.
Nor did the report speculate on exactly how many people may have visited the sites, but according to Jupiter Media Metrix government sites are very popular. Jupiter estimates that 3.5 million Internet users went to NASA's site in March, and 2.2 million people visited the Education Department's site.
What's more, the report describes one case where a contractor managed the business operations of an agency site that used the tracking technology and the agreement gave the contractor ownership of all the information about the Internet users who visited the site.
All things considered, the online privacy mishaps of the ad serving industry seem so... banal compared to this, don't they?