Hill puts lid on cookie jar

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) last week added an amendment to the

Treasury/ Postal appropriations bill calling for a moratorium on agency

use of "cookies," small bits of software placed on a Web user's hard drive.

The legislation comes as the Clinton administration attempts to shore

up its policy on privacy and federal Web sites.

"We need this timeout, or moratorium, where agencies are barred from

using these technologies until we have a governmentwide consistent policy

under force of law that provides the necessary protections against the unintentional

and involuntary collection of people's personal information," Frelinghuysen

said in a statement.

Roger Baker, chairman of the CIO Council's subcommittee on privacy,

sent a letter to agency CIOs this month asking for comments by this week

on how to implement a new policy prohibiting the use of cookies.

Cookies and federal Web sites became an issue last month when it came

to light that the White House site for the Office of National Drug Control

Policy was using cookies to track pages users visited. This prompted a memorandum

by Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget, reiterating

the White House's policy on privacy for federal Web sites.

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