White House Drug Office Tracks Computer Visitors

White House Drug Office Tracks Computer Visitors
Posted by FoM on June 20, 2000 at 16:00:55 PT
By Lance Gay, Scripps Howard News Service
Source: SHNS
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has taken its anti-drug message to the Internet, and it is secretly tracking those who find it in the process.Search for drug terms like "grow pot" on some Internet sites, and an ad banner that pops up from the drug office may drop a "cookie" program in your computer that tracks your online activities.
"It's sort of spooky," said Internet consultant Richard Smith, a privacy advocate and former software engineer.But despite what one critic called "Big Brother" tactics, the White House drug office says there's nothing surreptitious going on. The computer cookies are simply tracking its anti-drug media campaign."Cookies" are personal identifiers used to track the Web sites that computer users visit and what they buy. They identify Internet surfers by the service they are using to get access to the Internet, and can be matched with other information online to provide personal identification. Cookies are secretly inserted in personal computers when surfers visit certain Web sites.Smith said he inadvertently discovered the U.S. government cookies being dropped into his computer while doing Internet research for pharmaceutical companies.White House ads offering information on marijuana pop up when Internet users search for certain words connected to drugs on Internet search engines like AltaVista or Lycos. The banner ads steer users to the anti-drug site, which is operated by the White House drug office. A tracking cookie is inserted in the user's personal computer as the site is activated.Although Freevibe's privacy notice states that "no information, including your e-mail address, will be sold or distributed to any other organization," the site is connected Officials of Doubleclick, a New York advertising firm that is one of the largest companies gathering data on Internet user use, told the Senate Commerce Committee last week it is developing new products that will profile more than 40 million Internet users.Freevibe's site says the White House drug office will collect the e-mail address "only so we can identify your submission." It does not disclose that it will drop a cookie program in the personal computers of visitors to the site.Donald Maple, senior policy analyst with the White House drug office, said the cookie programs are part of the banner advertising campaign run through the New York advertising firm Ogilvie and Mather. He said the government is not getting personal information on visitors to the site."We have a specific agreement with Ogilvie and Mather that they will not provide personal identification," Maple said. He said the advertising company uses the data to determine which banner ads are effective, and to tailor the ads to attract more visitors.Maple admitted one of the anti-drug sites operated by the White House drug office and visited by 240,000 parents a month seeking information on drug abuse is itself inserting cookies into the computers of visitors. He said the drug office did not know this until a reporter pointed it out, and Tuesday ordered the contractor to disable the program."We didn't know it was there," Maple said. "It won't be shortly."Gary Towning, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy account at Ogilvie and Mather, said the use of cookies started only this month "to help us better understand if the (ad) banners are driving people to our site." He said the advertising firm has also bought the rights to link the drug office's ads with several words typed in on search engines, including the word "pot.""We're not tracking individuals. There's nothing identifying here,'' he said. "We're trying to understand our media campaign."Civil liberties lawyers said government tracking of Internet users could raise constitutional questions involving issues of searches without a warrant, and questioned why the government is monitoring citizen's Internet activities."This is nothing like what was envisioned by members of Congress," said Eric Sterling, former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. Sterling worked with the panel in 1988 when it drafted the law creating the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to coordinate the government's anti-drug-use policies."This is what is fairly called a case of Big Brother, you know as in '1984' where the government is clandestinely tracking you," said Sterling, now president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation lobbying group.Maple rejected concerns of civil liberties lawyers."I can't see anything wrong with it at all,'' he said, adding that the Internet is an ideal technology to reach young people with anti-drug messages.On the Net: from the drug policy office aimed at parents seeking information on teenage drug use. It has a cookie. aimed at the news media. It doesn't have a cookie Richard Smith's site, which gives information about Internet security.Washington - June 20, 2000 2000 Scripps Howard News Service.CannabisNews McCaffrey Archives:
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Comment #20 posted by kaptinemo on June 22, 2000 at 08:53:35 PT:
Here's that secret court I mentioned
Some wag, whose words should be engraved upon the doors of every government office, once wrote:The Republic ends when secrecy begins.This is why.
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Comment #19 posted by Jeaneous on June 21, 2000 at 17:37:17 PT:
Right On FoM
I agree with you 100%. I don't care if they track me. Heck I send them my name along with my posts... I can not let fear of them keep me from pursuing my own happiness, nor my own libery.-the more laws, the more criminals-
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on June 21, 2000 at 12:22:49 PT
Thanks Kaptinemo
I went and found the article I had about Echelon. I think I have at least one more but I can't find it right now but this sums it up. By the way everyone John Stossel will be on Politically Incorrect Tonight! That should be quite a show!ACLU Launches Web Site On Global Surveillance System Incorrect McWilliams On 20/20 With John Stossel of Peter from Give Me A Break
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on June 21, 2000 at 12:10:43 PT
Thanks Dan and Everyone
Thought I'd share that Dan got published! Way To Go Dan and I second the thank you very much!By By Daniel Butterworth Bills Go Too Far
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Comment #16 posted by freedom fighter on June 21, 2000 at 10:26:13 PT
My deepest humble thanks to you.I smoke and I do feel bad these days when I think about all those potheads in prisons. There are more people who does not smoke but support the movement. The backers of Alaskan movement do not smoke. Thank you Dan Oh poor Govt. trying to montior the InterNet. I do not think they can do the job as the Net is so vast and huge now. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Hackers that get caught were the ones who bragged about it. There are hackers who have not been caught yet! I wondered if it is possible that the internet will create so much information that it would overload any govt. in the world? ie the govt. will be spending so much time trying to figure who and what and where? I do know that in China that all internet connections are montiored but not in USA. We shall see how long they be able to keep up with it. May good thoughts be with you guys/gals!\|/
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Comment #15 posted by kaptinemo on June 21, 2000 at 09:29:37 PT:
Cookies are the least of your problems.
Ever since the late 1930's the US and Allied intelligence agencies have been gathering and sharing intelligence about their respective country's citizens. (see "A Man Called Interpid"). Since many of the *domestic* intelligence agencies such as CIA are *expressly forbidden* to spy on their own citizens, they ask the Brits, the Aussies, the Kiwis and the Canucks to do it for them. And they, of course, reciprocate.Over the years the technology changed to keep pace with the old trenchcoat-and-spyglass methods, and now we have a monster called ECHELON watching nearly every electronic transaction - including phone calls - into and outside of the US. The computers are keyed to 'look' for key words being spoken... like 'bomb'. So, if you have said on an phone that "Clinton is a philandering, lying bum and ought be taken out and shot!", you may very well have a file on you somewhere at Ft. Meade, home of the NSA, which is the chief architect of this electronic Frankenstein's Monster. (BTW, these are the same people who tried to put a bug in everybody's phone, which they could turn on and listen to anytime they liked. Yeah, sure, they had to get a warrant, but there is a secret court especially for that, and few requests have ever been turned down. It was called the Clipper Chip, and they haven't given up yet on *that* idea, either.)This is why the antis are so earnest in their efforts to get the Anti-Meth Bill passed; the spooks have already held their classified meetings in which they have told the lawmakers friendly to their aims that THE TECHNOLOGY TO IDENTIFY AND IMPLEMENT MASS ARRESTS OF REFORM PEOPLE ALREADY EXISTS.When a nation's leadership has no external threats to marshall their population against, they generally *create* them. But when there are no such credible external threats, the leadership turns it's attention to possible internal ones. Like people who speak out against government policy and criticize its' leadership. Like you and me.I cannot emphasize this enough; the antis have declared WAR upon us. We didn't strike the first blow, they did. And in war, you use whatever means necessary to achieve your goal... which is nothing short of the destruction of your foe. We are their sworn enemies. They have murdered (Peter McWilliams, Esesquiel Hernandez, Mario Paz, Ismael Mena, David Scott, et al.) they have lied and purjered themselves (Rampart), they have stolen (forfeiture) they have trampled upon civil liberties (warrantless searches) all to achieve their goal. This should surprise no none.As I said, cookies are the very least of your worries. Something a hel of a lot more dangerous is looming on the horizon... and coming our way. But if we can rally enough people to become active politically, we can stop a very large part of this ugly puzzle from dropping into place... on our heads. Tell your Congresscritter that NO on Anti-Meth would be a very smart move.  Otherwise, in a few years, there might be 10 million people behind bars instead of 2 million.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on June 21, 2000 at 09:00:28 PT
It is very spooky
Hi dddd and everyone,I'm afraid too. I just try not to show it. It's really fine to be scared. This is spooky. It's also down right sick what they are doing to our Constitution. More and more the book Animal Farm makes sense to me. I remember when I read it when I was a teenager and asked my Father why couldn't the USA become just like it became in the book. He said because we in America will only defend ourselves against invasion from a foreign country. He died in 69 so little did he know that that no longer is what we do in the United States.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #13 posted by dddd on June 21, 2000 at 01:32:18 PT
Come and get me
Right On,Fom,and Dan B.I hated posting my spooky beliefs and theories,because I dont like the thought of scaring anyone from speaking out. But I decided a long time ago,that if I am tracked down,and incarcerated,as a result of speaking my mind on the internet,,,the so be it. We are going to reach a point when the masses realize that the government is monsterously out of control,(which it already is). There was a time,when I wished I had spawned some children.Now,,,when I see the way things are going,I hate to think of 20,,,30,,,40, years from now,what kinda world it will be. Once again ,,I thank you FoM,for having the courage,and resolve to create this forum,and keep it going.The world needs more people like you,and the people you have brought together here.JAH shine on you all
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Comment #12 posted by Dan B on June 20, 2000 at 21:24:14 PT:
I, for one, don't care if they're watching
Let them come to my home. Let them destroy my property in order to find what I do not have (I am not a user--I just support the movement because I believe it to be right). Let them follow me wherever I go. All they will find is that I am at least one supporter of legalization (I suspect among many) who uses no illegal drugs--I'veresigned myself to using only legal drugs,like alcohol, and that only in moderation because I believe that our cause can be well-served by someone who is willing to make a few sacrifices on behalf of those who just want to be free to make their own choices about their own bodies.I can take the harassment. What I cannot abide is standing idly by while my fellow Americans are thrown into jail for making personal choices the government has no business judging in the first place. Let them track me via the computer. I'm sure that my visits to both pro-legalization sites and government anti-drug sites would make them absolutely nuts trying to figure out what I'm up to.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on June 20, 2000 at 21:14:20 PT
My 2 Cents
This is how I think about this whole thing. I knew that when I became the owner of CannabisNews that my name etc. was visible. I know that I am taking a chance. I don't run with any extra security that people use. I decided that I am talking about changing bad laws. Until they make it illegal I will continue. I avoid talking about issues that could get me in trouble. I weigh my words and hope for the best. I believe the Internet is full of people that are doing something illegal. This is legal, for now. I think if people need extra security they should have it. I just am hoping for the best. I sometimes think I don't feel I have much more to lose that could upset me. My husband, of course, but I just don't like being afraid anymore.Peace, FoM!Freedom's just another word when there's nothing else to lose!
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Comment #10 posted by dddd on June 20, 2000 at 20:25:10 PT
Of course I do no not accept any cookies.My browser,9Netscape Communicator),is set to ;"warn me before accepting ANY cookie".This is a hassle,because cookies are almost everywhere nowdays,and there are many sites where you must reject cookies many times before you can access a site.There are two basic kinds of cookies;ones that will only be sent back to "itself",and ones that will be sent to;"any server in domain,,xyz..etc". Most cookies will say how long they will persist for,"This cookie will persist until March 31,2030"... I hope that I dont scare,or spook anybody,when I say that not accepting cookies does nothing to protect you from being traced and identified.I am quite sure,that even with no cookie,your ISP logs your presence on line.All a cookie does,is make it way easier for those who want to know who you are.The absence of a cookie does not mean you are anonamous.(If someone knows otherwise,please correct me). Our privacy has already been grossly compromised,as shown by this article.The plan is to further monitor all that goes over the net.There will be more and more news releases about horrible viruses and bugs.Stories of terrorist hackers threatening the world will be seen.This will be used as a justification for government control,regulation,and monitoring of the internet. Does anyone think that the federal government is not concerned about taxing e-commerce? Like I say,,,enjoy this while you can...these are the good ol' days,,,and I'm sorry to say,they are numbered.Regretfully yet sincerely yours.....dddd
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Comment #9 posted by NOT TO WORRY on June 20, 2000 at 19:13:54 PT
>>>I keep my cookies disabled unless I must have them activated to go to a news site or something like that and then I immediately turn them off. I have gotten into that habit. It seems to protect me more from bugs too. I hope we won't get too concerned because we have come a long way and we might make a difference. If we quit now it might all be for nothing. I just can't. Peter died. I just can't.Peace, FoM! Oh, I agree with you. Peter's death was an unnecessary tragedy.  State by State things are changing. I was only trying to ease the worries of those that lurk here by offering a little tip. Freedom of speech is a powerful tool made possible because of the internet; as you know, there are those in Congress that are aware of this fact, and are working to stop it. Anything nonviolent we can do to mess with them should be used. Take care, NTW
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Comment #8 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 20, 2000 at 19:09:26 PT
By the way
Stay away from internet sites that compromize your security and rights. I won't give them my business.
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Comment #7 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 20, 2000 at 19:06:09 PT
All About Cookies
Cookies are information placed on your local computer by a web site to track you the next time you visit their web site again. Usually cookies contain stuff like what you like and where you've been on their site that way you don't have to type in stuff again, they could customize your experience the next time you go on their site, but they could contain anything the web developer decides. If the government knows the cookie ID's of these web sites they could spy on you, the web site has to give the cookie ID's out in order for that to happen. There maybe other ways to spy, I'm not sure, but this is how cookies work.Just erase the cookies after exploring a web site.Here's an example of where they are in Windows 98:C:\WINDOWS\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5You could still use the methods described below to erase the cookies.Good luck to all you freedom fighters,Mike
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Comment #6 posted by anonymous coward on June 20, 2000 at 18:44:27 PT
Try chaining E-mail and Usenet news posts through several anonymous remailers. Use an anonymizing web service for surfing web pages, chaining through multiple ones for extra measure. Don't use Microsoft products. Sure it's slow and requires some techincal work to set up, but anonyminity does exist on the Internet. 
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Comment #5 posted by Damian on June 20, 2000 at 17:56:42 PT
Tyrannical Eyes
THE meaning of freedom is in constant confrontation with the government's meaning of freedom. 
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on June 20, 2000 at 17:56:13 PT
I Do This
I keep my cookies disabled unless I must have them activated to go to a news site or something like that and then I immediately turn them off. I have gotten into that habit. It seems to protect me more from bugs too. I hope we won't get too concerned because we have come a long way and we might make a difference. If we quit now it might all be for nothing. I just can't. Peter died. I just can't.Peace, FoM!
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Comment #3 posted by NOT TO WORRY on June 20, 2000 at 17:46:41 PT
Just disable cookies
 It isn't that difficult to disable cookies when crusin the web. Simply select your internet properties, set security to high, delete temporary internet files, click on settings, then view files. You will see a list of all of your cookies, select all, and delete. It's just that easy...for now.
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Comment #2 posted by dddd on June 20, 2000 at 17:36:17 PT
I knew it!
Does this surprize anyone? You might as well get used to it.There is almost no such thing as "anonamous",when it comes to ANYBODY who is on line.,,,(Hi guys)... One wonders why the government would think it necessary to keep track of anyone who is pro-marijuana,or pro-drug.?? What do you think they will do with this "harmless" list in the future? If I suddenly disappear from this forum,you will know what happened.I think the police state,under the guise of the WoDs has advanced far beyond what we know,or believe. I hope this news wont cause anyone to be reluctant to post comments here.Speak out while you still can. May all the evil people who are pursueing their fellow Americans in this natzi-esque drugwar sham,,may they live to see their children,,brothers and sisters,or themselves,,hauled off to prison........dddd
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Comment #1 posted by MikeEEEEE on June 20, 2000 at 17:18:56 PT
Big Bother Watching
Paranoia at it's best.
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