Jun 222009
 June 22, 2009  Featured News

Peter Kafka writes:

How do we know that Google isn’t tracking the viewing records of people who watch YouTube videos at the official White House Web site? Because Google says so. That’s the short version of a followup to a post I wrote earlier this month, which noted that Google (GOOG) said it was no longer logging data from tracking cookies sent out from WhiteHouse.gov. That move was applauded by the privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.


After I wrote my story, I got a note from Daniel Brandt, who runs Scroogle.org, a non-profit that tries to foil Google’s attempts to track its users’ online behavior. He contended that that Google was still tracking YouTube views on the White House site. “I just clicked on a video at whitehouse.gov … and the YouTube Flash code phoned home to Google about two seconds into the videom,” he wrote. “Nothing has changed. What is Google/YouTube talking about?”

I relayed that question to Google spokesman Scott Rubin, who said that Brandt was correct — up to a point. YouTube is still sending viewing data back to the mothership when you watch a video at WhiteHouse.gov. It just doesn’t pay attention to said data.

Rubin’s explanation:”Even though the cookies are still sent as before when playback starts (since we did not change the domains of the video or playback functionality), we no longer log this information.” Just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, I asked Rubin what exactly becomes of the cookie data that YouTube receives from the site. “We don’t store it anywhere,” he wrote.

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