Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama White House tinkers with privacy protections for its own website; a "geek president"?

There is already some interesting discussion on Electronic Frontier Foundation about the Obama administrations’s new whitehouse website, referring to some CNET stories. The White House exempted YouTube from certain privacy rules, applied to federal government websites, that apply to embedded videos of content – specifically to protect users who don’t click play from receiving a possibly unwanted cookie. Chris Soghoian wrote the story on CNET (in the "Surveillance State" column) Jan. 22, here. There was even a question during the transition whether Obama’s transition team was bound by normal federal agency rules.

But today, Jan. 23, the White House had made a fix (apparently late Thursday) to limit YouTube cookie tracing, by using an “image” of the video player so that the user really would have to click to see the real player (pun intended). The CNET story is here.

It seems like IT folks in the White House, Secret Service, and various transition and support teams have real work to do, and can move quickly. Obama rightfully wants to be as hands on as possible, able to do his own surfing and reading, maybe even of these blogs. We understand he got to keep his Blackberry, with some proprietary security features added. The “Inaugural Fest” has an exhibit showing what the hardened laptops on Air Force One look like.

There is an important story today on my Trademarks blog about new litigation against a “news scraping” site, involving both copyright and trademark issues, link here. I debated whether it belonged there or here. As they say about exams, read it and weep!

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