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NSA used persistent Cookies

Stace

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Unrelated to the current NSA "scandal", but interesting nonetheless....

AP said:
NEW YORK - The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.

These files, known as "cookies," disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week, and agency officials acknowledged Wednesday they had made a mistake. Nonetheless, the issue raises questions about privacy at a spy agency already on the defensive amid reports of a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States.

"Considering the surveillance power the NSA has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."

Until Tuesday, the NSA site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035 — likely beyond the life of any computer in use today.
The rest of the article can be found on Yahoo.

Thoughts?
 

Caine

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Stace said:
Unrelated to the current NSA "scandal", but interesting nonetheless....



The rest of the article can be found on Yahoo.

Thoughts?
ANTI-AMERICAN!
TREASON!
YOUR AIDING THE ENEMY!
YOUR AIDING THE ENEMY!

rofl... Expect this sort of responce.
 

Schweddy

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Whats the difference between NSA doing this and a private company? Cookies themsevles are not harmful. Had they used spyware, that would be another issue.

Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday that the cookie use resulted from a recent software upgrade. Normally, the site uses temporary, permissible cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, he said, but the software in use shipped with persistent cookies already on.
Not a big oops. This article is a :spin: bigtime.

BTW, Debate Politics uses persistant cookies - :shock: !
 

Stace

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vauge said:
Whats the difference between NSA doing this and a private company? Cookies themsevles are not harmful. Had they used spyware, that would be another issue.



Not a big oops. This article is a :spin: bigtime.

BTW, Debate Politics uses persistant cookies - :shock: !
You little *****************************.....just kidding.

Seriously, it's not that big of a deal, I don't even visit their website, I guess it's just the principal behind it, seeing as how there are "federal rules banning most of them".

I guess I just found this more humorous than anything else, especially the part where it said the cookies weren't set to expire until 2035 :mrgreen:
 

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A cookie can only be read by the creator of it. So, for instance if you go to a bomb making site - DP would have no clue. Even though you had a cookie from here.

Our browsers are setup to only read what a specific site writes to your computer. DP can only read the cookies that DP makes. It is used here so that you do not have to login everytime.

Spyware trys to circumvent that by telling the computer everysite you visit is from a specific site so all the sites you visit from that point the spyware can read the cookies.

Cookie expiration default is 2035. :rofl

In short, a cookie is not a bad thing. Spyware is. NSA did not use spyware which would be illegal.
 

Stace

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vauge said:
A cookie can only be read by the creator of it. So, for instance if you go to a bomb making site - DP would have no clue. Even though you had a cookie from here.

Our browsers are setup to only read what a specific site writes to your computer. DP can only read the cookies that DP makes. It is used here so that you do not have to login everytime.

Spyware trys to circumvent that by telling the computer everysite you visit is from a specific site so all the sites you visit from that point the spyware can read the cookies.

Cookie expiration default is 2035. :rofl


In short, a cookie is not a bad thing. Spyware is. NSA did not use spyware which would be illegal.
Cookies that are created so you don't have to login every time you visit a site are good. But I believe the article said that the NSA cookies WERE the ones that track your web surfing patterns, which is bad.

Not like it matters to me anyway, because I manually clear my cookies on a fairly regular basis anyway. I just feel sorry for the folks that get those sorts of cookies (not just from the NSA site) and then get pop up ads all over the place because of it, and get frustrated 'cause they're computer illiterate and don't know how to get rid of the cookies OR get rid of the popups :lol:
 

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Stace said:
Unrelated to the current NSA "scandal", but interesting nonetheless....



The rest of the article can be found on Yahoo.

Thoughts?
Thought's? Well I wonder why you left out this key bit of information from the article

"Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday that the cookie use resulted from a recent software upgrade. Normally, the site uses temporary, permissible cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, he said, but the software in use shipped with persistent cookies already on. "After being tipped to the issue, we immediately disabled the cookies," he said.
Cookies are widely used at commercial Web sites and can make Internet browsing more convenient by letting sites remember user preferences. For instance, visitors would not have to repeatedly enter passwords at sites that require them."


I would bet that almost every government site you visit uses cookies just as almost every commercial site does.
 

Stinger

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Stace said:
Cookies that are created so you don't have to login every time you visit a site are good. But I believe the article said that the NSA cookies WERE the ones that track your web surfing patterns, which is bad.
This is what gets me about statements about this administration. Suddenly pure conjecture becomes fact. Nowhere in the article does it say any such thing. But you can bet it will state as such as fact now.
 

Stace

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Stinger said:
Thought's? Well I wonder why you left out this key bit of information from the article

"Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday that the cookie use resulted from a recent software upgrade. Normally, the site uses temporary, permissible cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, he said, but the software in use shipped with persistent cookies already on. "After being tipped to the issue, we immediately disabled the cookies," he said.
Cookies are widely used at commercial Web sites and can make Internet browsing more convenient by letting sites remember user preferences. For instance, visitors would not have to repeatedly enter passwords at sites that require them."


I would bet that almost every government site you visit uses cookies just as almost every commercial site does.
Gee, probably because I didn't feel like taking up space and posting the entire article. Especially since there's no need for it....if someone truly wanted to post their opinions on it, they'd follow the link and read the rest of the article for themselves.
 

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Stinger said:
This is what gets me about statements about this administration. Suddenly pure conjecture becomes fact. Nowhere in the article does it say any such thing. But you can bet it will state as such as fact now.
Where did I make a statement about the administration? NOWHERE. If you have a problem with the way the article itself was written, I suggest you take it up with the journalist.

AP said:
The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.
AP said:
"Considering the surveillance power the NSA has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."
AP said:
But privacy advocates complain that cookies can also track Web surfing, even if no personal information is actually collected.

In a 2003 memo, the White House's Office of Management and Budget prohibits federal agencies from using persistent cookies — those that aren't automatically deleted right away — unless there is a "compelling need."

A senior official must sign off on any such use, and an agency that uses them must disclose and detail their use in its privacy policy.

Peter Swire, a Clinton administration official who had drafted an earlier version of the cookie guidelines, said clear notice is a must, and `vague assertions of national security, such as exist in the NSA policy, are not sufficient."

Daniel Brandt, a privacy activist who discovered the NSA cookies, said mistakes happen, "but in any case, it's illegal. The (guideline) doesn't say anything about doing it accidentally."
 

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Stace said:
Gee, probably because I didn't feel like taking up space and posting the entire article. Especially since there's no need for it....if someone truly wanted to post their opinions on it, they'd follow the link and read the rest of the article for themselves.
Posting the entire article is against the rules, so I think you made an excellent call Stace. ;)

Without cookies, there would be no Perl, PHP, or ASP websites. It is needed to determine the different sessions. In other words; to distingish you from another person browsing the site. All websites would still be static and read like a book instead of a participating experience without them. Yahoo News, CNN, and even Debate Politics could not exist.

Stinger is right, the article never said the government *was* utilizing the tracking method. Instead this brilliant author spun it big time to make the reader assume it.
 

Stace

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vauge said:
Posting the entire article is against the rules, so I think you made an excellent call Stace. ;)

Without cookies, there would be no Perl, PHP, or ASP websites. It is needed to determine the different sessions. In other words; to distingish you from another person browsing the site. All websites would still be static and read like a book instead of a participating experience without them. Yahoo News, CNN, and even Debate Politics could not exist.

Stinger is right, the article never said the government *was* utilizing the tracking method. Instead this brilliant author spun it big time to make the reader assume it.
Yeah, I remembered reading in the rules about that, but figured I'd leave that one out of my explanation....didn't want to sound like a goody goody :lol:

I'm not disputing that cookies in and of themselves are a bad thing....my own personal website uses them to distinguish between visitors for hit counter purposes.

I doubt the NSA was actually utilizing the information gathered by the cookies, we all know they have better ways of getting our info (;) ), I think what most people will see as the problem is that they didn't properly check out the software they were using.....if anything, it makes the agency look incompetent....at least a little.
 

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vauge said:
A cookie can only be read by the creator of it. So, for instance if you go to a bomb making site - DP would have no clue. Even though you had a cookie from here.

Our browsers are setup to only read what a specific site writes to your computer. DP can only read the cookies that DP makes. It is used here so that you do not have to login everytime.

Spyware trys to circumvent that by telling the computer everysite you visit is from a specific site so all the sites you visit from that point the spyware can read the cookies.

Cookie expiration default is 2035. :rofl

In short, a cookie is not a bad thing. Spyware is. NSA did not use spyware which would be illegal.
A cookie can be used as spyware, and tracking cookies can be used to track what sites you visit on the internet. Mediaplex and Avenue A are 2 such tracking cookies, and are used to target advertising towards users, based on what sites they visit. The program Spybot Search & Destroy prevents them from being installed on my computer. Install Spybot Search & Destroy, make it resident (from options), then go to FOX News and watch the program prevent the Mediaplex tracking cookie from being installed.

However, I would be more prone to place the blame for the cookies on the company which runs the NSA site, rather than the NSA itself. According to news reports, the NSA shut down the cookie gathering as soon as it found out what was happening. Whether NSA actually ordered the third party company to implement it in the first place is something we will never know.
 

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Stinger said:
This is what gets me about statements about this administration. Suddenly pure conjecture becomes fact. Nowhere in the article does it say any such thing. But you can bet it will state as such as fact now.
You mean the first paragraph of the articles doesn't say what the first paragraph says? interesting
 

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danarhea said:
A cookie can be used as spyware, and tracking cookies can be used to track what sites you visit on the internet. Mediaplex and Avenue A are 2 such tracking cookies, and are used to target advertising towards users, based on what sites they visit. The program Spybot Search & Destroy prevents them from being installed on my computer. Install Spybot Search & Destroy, make it resident (from options), then go to FOX News and watch the program prevent the Mediaplex tracking cookie from being installed.

However, I would be more prone to place the blame for the cookies on the company which runs the NSA site, rather than the NSA itself. According to news reports, the NSA shut down the cookie gathering as soon as it found out what was happening. Whether NSA actually ordered the third party company to implement it in the first place is something we will never know.
Plausible deniability.

The NSA only CLAIMS to have stopped when "they were made aware." However, it may be that the NSA stopped when other people became aware.

"Your Honor, I stopper taking the money out of the other man's wallet, when I realized what I was doing, not when the other man saw me with his wallet in my hands."

Oh yeah, and I remember something like "Ignorance of the law is no Excuse." and accidentally committing a crime, is still a crime right?
 

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libertarian_knight said:
Plausible deniability.

The NSA only CLAIMS to have stopped when "they were made aware." However, it may be that the NSA stopped when other people became aware.

"Your Honor, I stopper taking the money out of the other man's wallet, when I realized what I was doing, not when the other man saw me with his wallet in my hands."

Oh yeah, and I remember something like "Ignorance of the law is no Excuse." and accidentally committing a crime, is still a crime right?
Good point, but there is really no way to know. We have to prove that the NSA knew what was going on, something that is impossible to determine. Granted, NSA is guilty of spying on American citizens, and that is based on evidence. However, we will never know whether it authorized tracking cookies, or whether the company did it on its own initiative. Rather than arguing this point ad-nauseum with the Bushneviks, we should stick to those issues which are well documented, and there are plenty enough of those.
 

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danarhea said:
Good point, but there is really no way to know. We have to prove that the NSA knew what was going on, something that is impossible to determine. Granted, NSA is guilty of spying on American citizens, and that is based on evidence. However, we will never know whether it authorized tracking cookies, or whether the company did it on its own initiative. Rather than arguing this point ad-nauseum with the Bushneviks, we should stick to those issues which are well documented, and there are plenty enough of those.
Much law assumes intent, just by mere act of having or possessing a thing. Possession of marijuana over 1oz, or less in multiple packages, assumes intent to distribute, wirtten into the law.

The question now is if the law states whether the presence of tracking cookies on federal websites assumes an intent, or not. Likely of course it won't, the federal government never assumes the federal governmnet to be doing thigs bad, the state only assumes citizens do bad.
 

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libertarian_knight said:
Much law assumes intent, just by mere act of having or possessing a thing. Possession of marijuana over 1oz, or less in multiple packages, assumes intent to distribute, wirtten into the law.

The question now is if the law states whether the presence of tracking cookies on federal websites assumes an intent, or not. Likely of course it won't, the federal government never assumes the federal governmnet to be doing thigs bad, the state only assumes citizens do bad.
I completely agree.
 

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Stace said:
Gee, probably because I didn't feel like taking up space and posting the entire article. Especially since there's no need for it....if someone truly wanted to post their opinions on it, they'd follow the link and read the rest of the article for themselves.
So you elect to post only one side and completely leave out the reasonable explaination.

Typical
 

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vauge said:
Posting the entire article is against the rules, so I think you made an excellent call Stace. ;)
Stace didn't need to post the entire article to include the other side of the story. It was a patently selective cite, leaving out a very salient point, made to look as if the government was deliberately planting tracking cookies.
 

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Honestly, who cares if the government is planting cookies on your computer. only those with something that needs to be hidden should be worried about it
 

Stace

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Stinger said:
Stace didn't need to post the entire article to include the other side of the story. It was a patently selective cite, leaving out a very salient point, made to look as if the government was deliberately planting tracking cookies.
No, the only thing "selective" about it is the fact that I posted the first couple of paragraphs of the article. I did not pick and choose paragraphs to post until later, when it became necessary to point out things that people apparently skipped over while reading the article.

I didn't write the article, so if you have a problem with the way the information was presented therein, go send an email to the journalist responsible.

Nice try though, thanks for playing, better luck next time.
 
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Stace

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Stinger said:
So you elect to post only one side and completely leave out the reasonable explaination.

Typical
Like I just said, I posted the first couple of paragraphs of the article. If you'd bothered to read the whole thing, you'd know that.
 

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Stace said:
No, the only thing "selective" about it is the fact that I posted the first couple of paragraphs of the article. I did not pick and choose paragraphs to post until later, when it became necessary to point out things that people apparently skipped over while reading the article.

I didn't write the article, so if you have a problem with the way the information was presented therein, go send an email to the journalist responsible.

Nice try though, thanks for playing, better luck next time.
Well this is a debating forum not a news reporting forum or a referral forum. The fact is you posted a one-sided cite leaving out the VERY salient facts. The fact is you posted a statement from one group trying to give the impression that NSA was pruposely putting tracking cookies on computers but then so how just cut out the NSA spokesman's rebuttle.Very selective, stopping just at the point that the article reports

"Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday that the cookie use resulted from a recent software upgrade. Normally, the site uses temporary, permissible cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, he said, but the software in use shipped with persistent cookies already on."

In all fairness shouldn't the rebuttle have been post too? Even your title was misleading according to the NSA rebuttle, that they "used" them. "Used" them for what?
 

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Stace said:
Like I just said, I posted the first couple of paragraphs of the article. If you'd bothered to read the whole thing, you'd know that.
How do you think I found out you selectively posted? By reading the very next statement in the article which is fairness should have been posted or at least parapharased.
 
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