Discussion on Information Assurance topics, sharing approaches, best practices, new ideas, and events.
Useful “paper”/report from CDT
May 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm #71930
CDT== Center for Democracy & Technology
Report Recommends Standards for Use of Analytics Tools on Government Web Sites
Washington – The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today released a report examining the use of analytics tools on federal agency Web sites. The report analyzes existing policy and makes recommendations for how federal agency Web sites can use analytics – a useful tool in developing open government strategies – while protecting citizen privacy.
“Analytics tools provide vital insights into what a Web site’s audience looks like and just how people are using the site,” said CDT Chief Computer Scientist Alissa Cooper. “This is a crucial first step in determining whether or not additional new open government technologies are worth the investment down the road,” Cooper said. “The protection of user privacy, however, must be a priority as the government begins to make use of new technologies.”
Recommendations for federal agencies include crafting robust policies to ensure that data collected for measurement purposes is adequately protected and updating current federal policy on persistent tracking technologies, such as cookies. Current federal policy requires, among other things, that the agency head authorize each use of these technologies. This has resulted in a near prohibition of persistent tracking technologies. While the policy should remain extremely protective of privacy, it should also allow federal agencies to take advantage of advances in Web technology.
“Currently, the prevailing approach to web analytics is to collect and store as much data as possible, regardless of the privacy implications,” said Tim Jones, EFF’s Activism & Technology Manager. “Web managers who want to take real steps to protect their visitors’ privacy have few practical options other than forgoing analytics altogether. This document outlines a middle path.”
The report offers a series of privacy safeguards and conditions that must be met in order to allow agencies to implement the use of analytics on their sites and calls on the providers of analytics tools to build their products to higher privacy standards than are currently found in commercial products. Because agency Web sites will play a key role in the Administration’s plan to create an environment that fosters a more participatory government, special attention will need to be given to the protection of citizen privacy.
“We should be focused on the practice, not the technology,” said CDT Vice President Ari Schwartz. “The first step is making sure you can protect privacy while still helping the government agency accomplish its mission. Once that’s done, it’s easier to implement these new technologies throughout the various agencies.”
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.