August 25, 2009 | By Tim Jones

The New York Times on Government Website Privacy

Today's New York Times includes their editorial board's take on revising government web tracking policy. Their recommendations align closely with those we made in coordination with The Center for Democracy and Technology earlier this month:

Officials say they recognize that people must be told that their use of Web sites is being tracked — and be given a chance to opt out. More is needed. The government should commit to displaying such notices prominently on all Web pages — and to making it easy for users to choose not to be tracked.

It must promise that tracking data will be used only for the purpose it was collected for: if someone orders a pamphlet on living with cancer, it should not end up in a general database. Information should be purged regularly and as quickly as possible. These rules must apply to third parties that operate on government sites.

The Obama administration is working to better harness the power of the Internet to deliver government services. That is good. But it needs to be mindful that people should be able to get help and be assured that their privacy is being vigilantly protected.

Last week, CDT's Alissa Cooper summarized our recommendations in detail on CDT's PolicyBeta blog.


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