Theodore's World: Obama Seeks to Track Visits to .gov Websites

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August 17, 2009

Obama Seeks to Track Visits to .gov Websites

Obama seeks to track visits to .gov websites

Planned lifting of ban on 'cookies' called '1984'-style spying effort



The Barack Obama administration has announced plans to lift a government ban on tracking visitors to government websites, and potentially, collect their personal data through the use of "cookies" – an effort some suspect may already be in place on White House sites.

A ban on such tracking by the federal government on Internet users has been in place since 2000, however, the White House Office of Management and Budget now wants to lift the ban citing a "compelling need."

In fact, according to the Electronic Privacy and Information Center, federal agencies have already negotiated agreements and contracts with social networking sites like Google, YouTube, SlideShare, Facebook, AddThis, Blist, Flickr and VIMEO to collect information on visitors for federal web sites. All of these private companies are known to have agreements with federal agencies, but the public has never seen them.

In public comments submitted to the Office of Management and Budget, EPIC notes it has obtained documents that show federal agencies have negotiated these contracts with the private sector in violation of "existing statutory privacy rights." Those agencies include: Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, and the National Security Agency.

There are suspicions the White House is already involved.

When White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was recently asked by Fox News reporter Major Garrett why Americans who had not signed up to receive any e-mails from the White House, were now receiving e-mails from White House adviser David Axelrod promoting President Obama's health care plan, Gibbs refused to answer the question.

"The Obama administration's favorite book seems to be '1984' by George Orwell," said Brad O’Leary, publisher of The O'Leary Report monthly newsletter and author of "Shut Up, America: The End of Free Speech." "Only they don't see '1984' as a warning, but rather a blueprint for spying on every American who visits a government website – something that has been banned for nearly a decade."

According to Obama "technology czar" Vivek Kundra, the "compelling need" driving this major policy reversal is the administration's desire to create "more open" government and to "enhance citizen participation in government."

O'Leary finds serious fault with Kundra's rationale.

"According to the new technology czar, there is a 'compelling need' to do this," said O'Leary. "The only compelling need I can think of is for a failing Obama administration to compile an enemy list of gun owners, pro-lifers, tea-party participants, those opposed to illegal immigration, and anyone opposed to the Obama-Pelosi agenda of government control over Americans' lives."

Spy cookies can do more than merely recall the user names and passwords of visitors who return to their favorite web sites. They can also track, retrieve and report selected movements someone makes on the Internet. Through the use of cookies, the federal government could have the power to create an individual profile of anyone who visits a government website – right down to a person's recent online purchases, or even race, gender and income level.

"No matter what the Obama administration says, a 'cookie' is a spy device," said O’Leary. "No matter how inoffensive the administration says their spy devices will be, once you open the door to the federal government spying on every American who visits a government website, it can't be closed – it can only be expanded."

According to O'Leary, if the Obama administration is successful in lifting this ban on federal privacy invasion, the lives of many Americans could become open books for bureaucrats.

"What if a harmless trip to the State Department's travel website or the White House's health care site, the Census Bureau's web site results in the Obama administration's discovery that you are someone who recently visited Cabela's, Smith and Wesson, or a tea party or pro-life web site?" asked O'Leary. "Is this all mundane information that political animals in government don't care about? Of course not. You might sooner expect a visit from Obama's IRS or Homeland Security than a pat on the back for 'participating' in government."

O'Leary says that it is time for Congress to step in and pass legislation to protect the privacy rights of Americans who could fall victim to White House spy cookies.

"Because of the lack of transparency from the Obama White House, we are filing FOIA requests to determine exactly how these agencies are using spy cookies," said O'Leary.

If you are a member of the media and would like to interview Brad O'Leary, email

Keep an eye on the Obama administration

February 17, 2009 .....NOTE the DATE! ~ Wild Thing

Letter to the Editor

PETER FUNT raises serious privacy concerns about Google's use of surveillance technologies ("Google is watching," Op-ed, Feb. 9), but unlike George Orwell's Big Brother, the Internet giant does not function as an arm of the government.

This could soon change, however, if the Obama administration gives Google authority to run, manage, and control the federal government's computing systems.

Instead of serving consumers and shareholders, Google could become a powerful government tool for spying on citizens and consolidating power.

Obama has appointed several key executives to top advisory roles. In December, Google opened a 15,000-square-foot office outside of Washington focused largely on serving the federal government.

These efforts appear to be paying off.

Today, for instance, visitors who view the president's weekly address at automatically receive a small file from Google that quietly tracks their online activities until 2011.

Perhaps this date will loom as the new 1984.

Daniel R. Ballon
Pacific Research Institute
for Public Policy
San Francisco


Wild Thing's comment.......

These people are frightened. There must be more angry E-Mails than these clowns ever anticipated and make public. In addition, I speculate that White House internal polls show wide spread disaffection. The various left wing "Hate Groups" are claiming a rise in conservative groups.

Totalitarian gov’t reaction. They know they intend to do evil to the people and they rightly fear the reaction. If they weren’t evil, and planning greater oppression they would have no reason to fear the People. Their fear proves their evil intent.

Obama sure is working over time to be the most hated elected official our country ever had.

....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at August 17, 2009 06:49 AM


Major Garret opened a can of worms for Hussein.

Posted by: Jack at August 17, 2009 08:54 AM

"If they weren’t evil, and planning greater oppression they would have no reason to fear the People."
Very true WT.

Posted by: Jim at August 17, 2009 08:58 AM

"A ban on such tracking by the federal government on Internet users has been in place since 2000,"

And, the Democrats had everybody believing it was Bush who was spying on the American people and trampling our rights.

Posted by: BobF at August 17, 2009 09:41 AM

I still prefer the guillotine but will settle for a gallows erected outside the White House steps.

Posted by: Eddie (Obama Hater) at August 17, 2009 10:06 AM

obama believes in transparency all right, but of the citizenery, not his government. He can spy on our computers but won't show his birth certificate. Glad I haven't been to the WH site, but I think I have been to several govt. sites since Inaugaration Day. Oh well, if you are reading this obama, Kiss My GI Ass!!

Posted by: TomR at August 17, 2009 12:13 PM

I answered two of those damn letters. I guess they have me laid out in their cellar. Screw'em.

Posted by: Mark at August 17, 2009 12:33 PM

Obama sure is working over time to be the most hated elected official our country ever had.

As far as I'm concerned he could have stopped working month's ago. I believed he was a deceitful, sneaky, two faced POS before he was elected.

Posted by: Bob A at August 17, 2009 01:28 PM

Thank you everyone so much. If a Republican
president had done this there would be
outrage on every network and in every
This was huge and only Fox wanted the

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 17, 2009 11:45 PM

I've said it before, I think Bary's favorite book is Atlas Shrugged.

Posted by: Dave at August 20, 2009 03:41 PM