DRUG OFFICE MUST TAKE HAND OUT OF 'COOKIE' JAR

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Pubdate: Wed, 21 Jun 2000
Source: Alameda Times-Star (CA)
Copyright: 2000 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Contact: triblet@angnewspapers.com
Address: 66 Jack London Sq. Oakland, CA 94607
Website: Home - Digital First Media
Author: Lance Gay, Scripps Howard News Service, gayl@hns.com

DRUG OFFICE MUST TAKE HAND OUT OF 'COOKIE' JAR

WASHINGTON -- The White House said Wednesday that its drug office has been ordered to
stop secretly collecting information on people who visit its anti-drug Internet sites.

"We will take steps necessary to halt these practices now," the White House said in a
statement released through the press office. The statement said that contractors working with
the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy also have been directed to destroy all
information collected clandestinely from visitors to the anti-drug sites

The statement said that the White House learned for the first time Wednesday that the drug
office was collecting information from users of the of "cookies," which are inserted into the
computers of individuals when they visit the sites. (The practice was revealed in a Scripps
Howard News Service story.)

Cookies are identifiers that are inserted into the hard drives of Internet users as they surf the
Web.

The White House drug office employed the cookie technology to determine what
advertisements were drawing people to the their Web sites, www.freevibe.com and
www.theantidrug.com. The agency says that more than 500,000 youths a month are visiting
its Freevibe site, which provides anti-drug messages for young people, and about 250,000 a
month are visiting theantidrug.com, which is a site providing drug information to parents of
teenagers.

The cookies were delivered as part of an advertising contract between the White House and
the New York advertising firm Ogilvie and Mather. In addition, theantidrug.com site was
issuing cookies on its own to visitors, and blamed a contractor who set up the computer
system for the problem.

"At no time has ONDCP (the drug office) requested or received any personally identifiable
information based on the use of 'cookies,' " the White House statement said.

(Lance Gay is a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service. Reach him at gayl@hns.com )
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