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Rethinking Federal Privacy Policies

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ITIF just released a report (download PDF) that looks at the history of the federal government policy on “cookies”—small data files stored on a user’s computer. We specifically look at the strict limitations put on the use of persistent cookies and how this has affected the development of government websites. The report surveys the 10 most popular government and non-government websites and their privacy policies. We also look at the growing importance of non-government websites to access government data, such as used to access campaign finance data, rather than the government website In the report, we call for a much more flexible privacy framework for government websites, one that allows the use cookies (and other similar technology like flash cookies and DOM storage objects). The goal should be to protect privacy, but not at the expense of other equally importantant goals for e-government like usability, transparency and accessibility.

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About the author

Daniel Castro is vice president at ITIF. His research interests include health IT, data privacy, e-commerce, e-government, electronic voting, information security, and accessibility. Previously, Castro worked as an IT analyst at the Government Accountability Office where he audited IT security and management controls at various government agencies. He has a B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown University and an M.S. in information security technology and management from Carnegie Mellon University.