According to a report from the Associated Press, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) site has been placing persistent cookies (cookies that remain on a user’s computer until they expire or are removed by the user), despite strict federal rules banning most of them.
These cookies from the spy agency were outed by a privacy activist and quickly disappeared from the NSA’s site. According to Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, the forbidden cookies were the result of a recent software upgrade.
Until this past Tuesday, the cookies could have remained on user’s computers until, gasp, the year 2035.
Scary, isn’t it? Well, not to you and me, because we know that these tracking cookies are not the scary beasts they are made out to be by some in the media.
But this sort of story can certainly freak out the average online shopper, and make it all the more difficult for affiliates to earn commission on return days.
After all, for anybody freaked out by the prospect of spies sneaking into their computer, dumping all their cookies is an easy click away.
“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.
Hopefully the public pays more attention to Mr. Schwartz than the shock and awe of the AP.
For anybody attending Affiliate Summit 2006, Ari Schwartz will be giving a presentation, “Spyware: The Effects on Your Brand and Your Pocket,” and this issue may well provide some fodder.