[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 142 (Monday, July 27, 2009)]
[Pages 37062-37063]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-17756]



Proposed Revision of the Policy on Web Tracking Technologies for 
Federal Web Sites

AGENCY: Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the 

ACTION: Request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is considering 
options for revising the current prohibition on Web tracking 
technologies (such as persistent cookies) and invites public comments 
on the policy that would govern the use of such technologies. The goal 
of this review is for the Federal Government to continue to protect the 
privacy of people who visit Federal Government Web sites while at the 
same time making these Web sites more user-friendly, providing better 
customer service, and allowing for enhanced Web analytics.

[[Page 37063]]

DATES: Comments must be received by August 10, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments by one of the following methods:
     Web site: http://www.regulations.gov.
     Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/open. Click the link 
to ``Federal Web sites Cookie Policy Forum'' and follow the 
instructions for submitting comments electronically.
     E-mail: [email protected].
     Fax: (202) 395-7245
    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be made 
available to the public through the relevant Web sites. For this 
reason, please do not include in your comments information of a 
confidential nature, such as sensitive personal information or 
proprietary information. If you send an e-mail comment, your e-mail 
address will be automatically captured and included as part of the 
comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the 
    Relevant comments submitted through the White House Open Government 
Initiative will be taken into consideration alongside those received in 
response to this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mabel Echols, Office of Information 
and Regulatory Affairs, Records Management Center, Office of Management 
and Budget, Room 10102, NEOB, 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 
20503. Telephone: (202) 395-6880.
    Copies of OMB memoranda M-00-13 and M-03-22 are available on OMB's 
Web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/memoranda_default/.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On June 22, 2000, OMB issued memorandum M-
00-13, which was later updated by memorandum M-03-22, prohibiting the 
use of Web tracking technologies unless the agency head approves the 
use of these technologies due to a compelling need.
    During the past nine years, Web tracking technologies have become a 
staple on most commercial Web sites with widespread public acceptance 
of their use. Technologies such as persistent cookies enable Web sites 
to remember a visitor's preferences and settings, allowing for a more 
personalized, user-friendly experience. Moreover, such technologies are 
necessary for accurate analytics of Web traffic, which helps to inform 
decisions about how to improve a Web site so that it can better serve 
the public.
    While the benefits of using Web tracking technologies are clear, 
OMB is acutely aware of, and sensitive to, the privacy questions raised 
by the use of such technologies. Any evaluation of revisions to the 
current prohibition must consider, and address, potential risks to 
    Under a framework that we are considering, any Federal agency using 
Web tracking technologies on a Federal Government Web site would be 
subject to basic principles governing the use of such technologies and 
would be required to:
     Adhere to all existing laws and policies (including those 
designed to protect privacy) governing the collection, use, retention, 
and safeguarding of any data gathered from users;
     Post clear and conspicuous notice on the Web site of the 
use of Web tracking technologies;
     Provide a clear and understandable means for a user to 
opt-out of being tracked; and
     Not discriminate against those users who decide to opt-
out, in terms of their access to information.
    OMB is currently considering the application of a three-tiered 
approach to the use of Web tracking technologies on Federal Government 
Web sites. A set of tiers that we are considering would be:
    1st Single-session technologies--which track users over a single 
session and do not maintain tracking data over multiple sessions or 
    2nd Multi-session technologies for use in Web analytics--which 
track users over multiple sessions purely to gather data to analyze Web 
traffic statistics; and
    3rd Multi-session technologies for use as persistent identifiers--
which track users over multiple visits with the intent of remembering 
data, settings, or preferences unique to that visitor for purposes 
beyond what is needed for Web analytics.
    It is anticipated that there would be more stringent restrictions 
or review of the uses of such technologies within the tiers that have 
higher privacy risks associated with them.
    OMB invites public comment on the framework that should govern 
Federal agency use of Web tracking technologies, including such topics 
     The appropriate tiers;
     The acceptable use and restrictions of each tier;
     The basic principles governing the use of such 
     The degree of clear and conspicuous notice on each Web 
site that Web tracking technologies are being used;
     The applicability and scope of such a framework on Federal 
agency use of third-party applications or Web sites;
     The choice between an opt-in versus opt-out approach for 
     Unintended or non-obvious privacy implications; and
     Any other general comments with respect to this issue.

Kevin F. Neyland,
Acting Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
[FR Doc. E9-17756 Filed 7-24-09; 8:45 am]