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Happy New Year (Without a Cookie)

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  • Gregory
    White House Crumbles a Cookie White House denies security specialist s claim that its web site issues cookies in possible violation of government policy.
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 30, 2005
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      White House Crumbles a Cookie

      White House denies security specialist's claim that its web site
      issues cookies in possible violation of government policy.
      December 30, 2005

      The White House on Friday denied published reports that it uses small
      programs, called cookies, to track the movement of visitors on the
      White House web site.



      Web software security specialist Richard M. Smith and the Associated
      Press reported that the White House web site, through a web analytics
      contractor called WebTrends, was using cookies that were specifically
      banned by a two-year-old directive issued from the Office of
      Management and Budget.



      David Almacy, the White House Internet director, denied that the
      White House web site is issuing cookies to any visitors to its Web
      site, but confirmed the site does keep track of what pages are viewed
      and for how long with the help of WebTrends. He blamed Mr. Smith's
      software, called a packet sniffer, for the confusion.



      "What was happening was that users that visited other WebTrends sites
      picked up WebTrend cookies from these other sites," said Mr.
      Almacy. "Mr. Smith's packet sniffer program then assumes that because
      we use WebTrends our site placed the cookies on his hard drive."


      Mr. Smith dismissed the White House responses as "very predictable"
      and called it a "do not inhale excuse." He noted that such third-
      party cookies still allow tracking across multiple sites.



      Associated Press writer Anick Jesdanun wrote that while the White
      House doesn't issue cookies, it employs a tiny graphic image called
      a "web bug" sent by WebTrends that allows the company to know when a
      specific page is viewed on the White House site.



      "The only information we track is what pages are being viewed and we
      count site visits and the length of time each visitor spends on our
      site," said Mr. Almacy. "We don't track any personal information
      about the user."



      Mr. Smith and the AP reported earlier this week that the National
      Security Agency's web site was issuing cookies to web visitors (see
      NSA Caught Serving Cookies). The NSA said that the cookies were being
      distributed unbeknownst to the NSA staff because of a recent software
      upgrade. The agency said it had taken care of the problem.

      Cookie Assurance

      Cookies are small files placed on computers by web programs residing
      on sites visited by those computers. They were originally designed to
      hold identifying information to make web surfing easier and faster.



      Today cookies are used to store all kinds of information, including
      the content of a web surfer's electronic shopping cart. Many web
      surfers are concerned about the lack of privacy involved in the
      surreptitious placement of cookies on their computer hard drives.



      They are helpful, for the most part, but they carry the potential for
      abuse because they can monitor and document the activities of web
      surfers.



      "No information is gleaned from cookies on a user's computer on our
      web site," said Mr. Almacy.

      "We are not allowed to use some of the advanced web technology
      available to others because of the privacy concerns that we are
      committed to."
    • Ram Lau
      Happy New Year Gregory and other members! I m happy without a cookie! Ram
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 31, 2005
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        Happy New Year Gregory and other members! I'm happy without a cookie!

        Ram
      • THOMAS JOHNSON
        Happy New Year all! BTW I got a Christmas Eve treat this year.. I was leaving a restaurant and found myself standing next to one of my favorite historians,
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 31, 2005
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          Happy New Year all! BTW I got a Christmas Eve treat
          this year.. I was leaving a restaurant and found
          myself standing next to one of my favorite historians,
          H.W. Brand. I shook his hand and told him how much I
          enjoyed his work.. he was very down to earth and a
          great guy.
          And Happy New Year to you folks at the White House if
          you are monitoring this message.

          Tom





          --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:

          > Happy New Year Gregory and other members! I'm happy
          > without a cookie!
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          > Ram
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