Cookies may make a comeback on federal Web sites

A Defense official suggests the longstanding ban on cookies on federal Web sites may be lifted.

Is the lid coming off the federal Web cookie jar? A senior Defense Department official has suggested that a decade-old ban on cookies on federal Web sites might be lifted.

David Wennergren, deputy chief information officer at DOD, told Nextgov in an interview that Web managers may be allowed to put cookies on their Web sites if visitors give their consent. The cookies collect personal information from visitors so they can tailor content to the visitor.

"People have strong feelings about the right to privacy, so we're going to have to navigate," Wennergren told Nextgov. "It might be one of these things where we have to [offer an] 'opt-in,'" allowing visitors a choice of whether to consent to their usage being tracked, he said.

The federal cookie ban was put into place in 2000 to protect visitors’ privacy. Although cookies have become much more popular on the Web since that time, the federal prohibition remains controversial. Some favor using cookies on federal sites to foster more interactive Web experiences, while others continue to oppose cookies because of the possibility of privacy loss.

The Office of Management and Budget last year began revisiting the cookie policy, and public comments were collected.