OMB details draft of new federal cookie policy

Friday - 7/24/2009, 4:01pm EDT

By Max Cacas
FederalNewsRadio


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 FederalNewsRadio, OMB in next Monday's Federal Register is expected to outline proposals to substantially change policy originally dictated by a June 200 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.

OMB is considering allowing the use of such technologies as long as agencies:

  • Adhere to existing laws and policies on data collection, including privacy protection
  • Post clear notice on the use of cookies on the site
  • Provide a clear means for users to opt-out of being tracked
  • Do not discriminate against those who do choose to opt-out

OMB also is expected to detail 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.

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FederalNewsRadio -- Decade-old cookie policy under review

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