Government privacy policies should be more restrictive than those
governing the private sector. If a private sector website displeases
consumers in any way, including privacy practices, consumers can use
other resources. This is not true of the relationship between
citizens and governments. Restrictive policies on government information
collections are justified.
Citizens can control whether they allow cookies to be set on their
computers, however. Prohibiting federal government websites from
using cookies needlessly defends citizens from a software device
they have full power to control themselves. Because of
their monopoly control of government information and services, notice
of cookies is appropriate on government websites that use them, but a blanket
prohibition on cookies would likely render already complicated
federal websites more difficult to navigate and use than necessary.
If cookies are indeed unacceptable for federal websites, the OMB's
leave power in the hands of federal administrators to decide whether
cookies will be used or not, and there is no apparent enforcement
Sure enough, within months of the policy being put into effect, it was
revealed that federal Web sites do not comply with it.
Protection Act. As Privcilla revealed in a special
report, the White House Web site itself did not follow this policy at the time.
Cookie-Gate Crumbles by Solveig Singleton, Cato Institute (July 11, 2000)
Memorandum No. M-00-13 by Jack Lew, Director (June 22, 2000)