back to article Tracking cookies found in more than half of G20 government websites

We expect a certain amount of cookie-based tracking on retail websites and social networks, but in some countries up to 90 percent of government sites have implemented trackers – and serve them seemingly without user consent.  A study by IMDEA, a research facility in Madrid, Spain, evaluated more than 118,000 URLs of 5,500 …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge

    No change there then

    A similar study was conducted in 2019, with at least equally troubling results, particularly as that study identified government sites explicitly processing sensitive personal data (e.g. "52% of landing pages on national health services contain 3rd party ad tracking" and "63 companies were monitoring a single German webpage about maternity leave".

    1. angelinajulie

      Re: No change there then

      In 2019, another study took place, revealing similarly concerning findings. This study specifically highlighted government websites that were handling sensitive personal data. For example, it found that 52% of landing pages on national health services contained third-party ad tracking, and a single German webpage about maternity leave was monitored by 63 different companies.

  2. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    I think governments are largely exempt from the rules on tracking. National security, interest blah blah

    What's probably more important is whether the data (including sensitive information) land on some private servers to which people outside of government have access...

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Exempt

      "I think governments are largely exempt from the rules on tracking. National security, interest"

      Only where these specific exemptions apply. However they are harder to bring to account. However that is even supposing anyone actually finds out about the abuse in the first place, as the relevant regulations depend on complaints from victims for enforcement to proceed. That's the major weakness - no independent policing by the regulators. Consequently studies such as these, although of significant interest, are unlikely to drive improvement.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    simple incompetence strikes again

    because you shouldn't trust the people who build websites to build websites.

    I hate that this is literally true, if sarcastic in tone.

    and in other news the sky is still blue.

    These are the same "talent" pool that build websites for the rest of the internet. The don't stop to think about what they are doing when the consultancy they work for swaps them from Tesco to Walmart, why would they when they win a bid from the NHS, or a sex abuse reporting sight? Same people, same boilerplate, every single time.

    But the problem is more than a labor pool of apes in front of keyboards.

    Do we train them properly? Do we check their work? Was it in the bid for the job in the first place? These problems have to be addressed as management problems. We have been shouting at wrong primate pen.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: simple incompetence strikes again

      Yup and most of the trackers are things like Google AnalLytics

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: simple incompetence strikes again

      But partly that is because the people checking or doing any Q&A, are from the same school of thought so do not see any issues.......

      It is a vicious cycle where lazy developers using all sorts of GUI tools and bits of packaged code put websites together that look great, more or less work but there is audit of all the extra bits that are now incorporated.

      There are great developers out there, they just cost more.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Don't wait for Google to switch of 3rd party cookies in Chrome, you can turn it off yourself right now in the setting. I did it over 6 months ago and not noticed hardly any issues with most websites.

    Although i do most of my browsing through Firefox and just go on Chrome when a website isn't working on FF due to a lazy developer.

  5. Terry 6 Silver badge

    How much of it, I wonder...... the result of cheese paring decisions to host media content on third party sites, such as YouTube, rather than leasing adequate server storage spaces or hosting on-prem

  6. iron

    This is not sloppy web development

    Declaring this sloppy web development or careless webmastery is wrong and downplays seriousness of the issue. I'm willing to concede we're not talking GCHQ / NSA type spying here but these libraries and cookies have been added to sites purposely. You don't accidentally sign up for Google Analytics and add their code to your site, for example.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is not sloppy web development

      I'd be willing to bet that the actual spec said more on "analytics" than security.

      Governments want stats on EVERYTHING.

  7. bombastic bob Silver badge

    Special "delete hisstory" login is required

    What _I_ do with any gummint (or business, or whatever) login that MIGHT have tracking cookies...

    * special user login (let's say "allowscript" as a user name)

    * fiirefox configured to allow all script and cookies, but delete all history on exit

    * only access these web sites using this login

    seems to work for rme

    (hopefully FOILS their attempt to track me)

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Jeff Minter

    Analytics IS spying. But let's turn a blind eye because they're the right sort of government, shall we?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just ordered updated driver's license due to moving...

    and this US state's DMV site asks if I want to sign in with Google, Facebook, or Apple. With accompanying cookies. I have a feeling that the reason my usual browser (Chromium with ABP) didn't work with the site is because it blocked this nonsense. (They did have a "guest" mode, which I successfully used in another browser that only gets used for sites that don't otherwise work.)

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