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... und das trotz einer Direktive des Weissen Hauses, die genau solches
verbietet. Man glaubt offenbar, dass mit "nationaler Sicherheit" alles zu
rechtfertigen ist...

Grüsse, Ralf
Audit finds department violates White House directive 

WASHINGTON, June 6 ? One in four Web sites run by the Defense Department have no
privacy statement posted, according to an oversight report. An even larger
number collect information about the public despite a White House directive
barring the practice. 
THE AUDIT FOUND it possible that commercial companies might secretly have
collected and sold personal information about visitors to Defense Web sites.
Many employees responsible for the Web sites said they didn?t know about the
government?s policies on tracking technology or that privacy policy statements
are required, even though Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz updated and
reiterated the rules two months ago.
Since July, the Defense Department has required display on Web sites of a
privacy notice at each major entry point and wherever identifying information is
collected from visitors. Defense and all other departments and agencies already
were bound by similar rules under a June 1999 order of the White House?s Office
of Management and Budget.
Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., called the new report
disturbing. The two were responsible for an amendment that requires each
agency?s inspector general to conduct a privacy audit and report to Congress.
?Americans should not have to worry about federal agencies monitoring their
Internet activity, yet this audit found seven examples of invisible Web bugs on
Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Web sites,? Inslee said. A Web bug is a tiny
invisible image on a Web page used to track users.
The report checked a sample of 400 Defense sites; 100 had no privacy notices.
?This 25 percent failure rate is astronomical, given how late we are into the
privacy discussion,? Inslee said.  

In a response to the auditors, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary J. William
Leonard said the sites were not necessarily collecting personal information but
admitted that the prohibited Internet text files, called ?persistent cookies,?
were present.
Leonard said the auditor?s recommendations ? to remove the tracking software,
post privacy notices and make sure officials know the policies ? would be
completed by Aug. 31.
The director of the Defense Privacy Office noted that since Web masters were not
aware of the tracking rules, ?the proscribed activity results from acts of
nonfeasance rather than malfeasance on the part of the Web masters.?
Thirty-six Defense Web masters had tracking code on their sites. Ten knew about
them, of which seven said they didn?t know that the Defense department forbids
?Web masters complained that they were not provided guidance on the DoD
(Department of Defense) policy or instructions to identify persistent cookies or
Web bugs,? the auditors say.
The Clinton administration restricted use of cookies on federal Web sites last
summer after investigators found widespread use in several agencies. Thirty-two
percent of sites checked by the auditors had cookies that can track people as
they travel through different sites.
Since many of the cookies originated with commercial companies, the auditors
worry that consumer privacy may be at risk.  

?DoD has inadequate assurance that the involuntary collection of personal
information by commercial companies at DoD Web sites is safeguarded and not sold
or given away after it is collected,? the report states.
The auditors told Defense officials to remove the cookies, although the survey
sample was a small fraction of the 2,608 registered Defense sites.
Government agencies have had a long string of Internet privacy and security
breaches in the last year. On several occasions investigators discovered the use
of tracking software on their sites.
Federal investigators also have found significant security lapses at many
agencies ? including the Environmental Protection Agency, Veterans Affairs and
the office that controls Medicare ? that could lead to hackers stealing or
altering sensitive data.

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