The Office of Management and Budget is putting the call out for public comments on a long-awaited revision of federal policy on Web tracking technologies, more popularly known as cookies.
In a document obtained by Federal News Radio, OMB, in today’s Federal Register, is expected to outline proposals to substantially change policy originally dictated by a June 2000 OMB memorandum. That memorandum specifically prohibits use of Web tracking tools unless specifically approved by an agency official, and only under compelling need.
Cookies have become a staple of most commercial, private-sector Web sites since the issuance of that memo, because they let Web sites adapt to user preferences, thus allowing for a more user-friendly experience. In addition, cookies let Web sites better track and manage what users expect from those sites.
Beth Noveck, deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House, told Federal News Radio during a conference call last Friday that, “The purpose of the review is to consider a new policy that’s going to help protect privacy of people who visit federal websites, and at the same time, make websites more friendly, provide better customer service, and provide for enhanced web analytics.”
Adhere to existing laws and policies on data collection, including privacy protection;
Provide a clear means for users to opt-out of being tracked;
Do not discriminate against those who do choose to opt-out.
OMB is also detailing a three-tiered approach to determine which Web tracking technologies are appropriate for federal sites. The approach would include single sessions cookies, and multi-session cookies for both Web analytics or persistent identifiers.
Interested parties will have two weeks from the publication in the Federal Register to submit comments. Noveck says Monday, August 10th is the deadline for submitting public feedback.