I came across an article yesterday discussing the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) recent guidance allowing the government to use “persistent cookies.” For over a decade they have not been able to use such technologies to track user website visits. The new guidance, M-10-22, permits the use of “web measurement and customization technologies, including cookies – small pieces of browser software that track and authenticate web viewing activities by users.”
One of the more interesting points I noticed in the article is the decision to leave the choice of using an “opt-in” versus an “opt-out” model up to the individual agencies. I wish OMB would have set an example here and made a cross-the-board statement that users MUST opt-in. Instead they danced around the subject and passed the decision onto the individual agencies for better or for worse.
I know as a website operator how “neat” these statistics can be however the most important stats (e.g., total hits or page views) can often be collected without the use of tracking cookies or similar techniques. We are all tired of commercial companies taking advantage these technologies at the expense of our privacy. Each of the individual agencies need to take a stand and choose the “opt-in” model as a small step in showing the commercial world how it should be done.
I know this opinion may not be popular in some circles … but in the end, it’s just the right thing to do!