Today the White House Office of Management and the Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum (pdf) that changes regulations on the use of persistent cookies on Federal websites. The action removes a decade-old ban, intended to protect privacy, but which has kept agencies from providing the industry-standard customer service web users expect. In reviewing this issue, over the past year, the White House has carefully balanced the trade-off between privacy and open, efficient government. Not surprisingly, the memo is very carefully worded. Users will have full opportunity to opt out of giving any identifying information. The assumption, however, is that many visitors to Federal sites will appreciate closer and easier ties to their government.
Though it’s late on a hot Friday afternoon in DC, when many are heading out of the city, the social networks, blogs and trades have been buzzing. Aliya Sternstein at nextgov offers a thorough run-down of the conference call with OMB’s Michael Fitzpatrick, Associate Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The next step is finding out what it really means for agency communications.