Another leak that has come to us from Edward Snowden reveals that the National Security Agency (NSA) uses Google’s tracking cookies to find out where their targets are.
Tracking cookies are a common method used by advertisers to better serve targeted ads to potential customers, by paying attention to where they surf on the web and what they visit. The cookies don’t record explicit personal information, like email addresses, but you can still learn a lot about a person because these cookies essentially track online viewing history and habits. So it makes sense that the NSA would want to to be able to get into it.
“On a macro level, ‘we need to track everyone everywhere for advertising’ translates into ‘the government being able to track everyone everywhere,” Chris Hoofnagle told the Post. Hoofnagle is Law Lecturer at UC Berkeley, and added that, “it’s hard to avoid.”
To be clear, it isn’t just Google that uses these tracking cookies; most all advertisers use their own tracking cookies and Google’s tracking cookies are found on any website that runs Google ads (including dotTech) — not just Google’s own websites.
Tracking cookies may annoy privacy advocates but are not really a bother for most people. After all, the internet was never designed to be a private place and all the free services used by all of us have to be paid by something (i.e. ads). However, I’m guessing not very many people are going to like the fact that the NSA is using them. Luckily there is a way to turn them off. If you check this link, it will take you to a guide that shows you how to disable Google’s tracking cookies.
[via Tech Crunch]