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Proposed Revision of the Policy on Web Tracking Technologies for Federal Web Sites

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Citation Edit

U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Proposed Revision of the Policy on Web Tracking Technologies for Federal Web Sites, 74 Fed. Reg. 37062 (July 27, 2009) (full-text).

Overview Edit

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was considering options for revising the current prohibition on Web tracking technologies (such as persistent cookies) and invited public comments on the policy that would govern the use of such technologies. The goal of this review was for the Federal Government to continue to protect the privacy of people who visit Federal Government Web sites while at the same time making these Web sites more user-friendly, providing better customer service, and allowing for enhanced Web analytics.

The OMB indicated that it was currently considering the application of a three-tiered approach to the use of Web tracking technologies on Federal Government Web sites. The set of tiers that OMB was considering would be:

  • 1st Single-session technologies — which track users over a single session and do not maintain tracking data over multiple sessions or visits;
  • 2nd Multi-session technologies for use in Web analytics — which track users over multiple sessions purely to gather data to analyze Web traffic statistics; and
  • 3rd Multi-session technologies for use as persistent identifiers — which track users over multiple visits with the intent of remembering data, settings, or preferences unique to that visitor for purposes beyond what is needed for Web analytics.

It was anticipated that there would be more stringent restrictions or review of the uses of such technologies within the tiers that have higher privacy risks associated with them.

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