Wherein Brian J. Speaks Ex Cathedra About NSA Cookies

As a QA dude who understands cookies, I officially call this a non-story: Despite federal ban, NSA Web site places ‘cookies’ on visitors’ computers to track Web surfing:

The National Security Agency’s Internet site has been placing files on visitors’ computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.

The government apparently bans permanent cookies, but allows session cookies. The NSA explains the brief presence of permanent cookies this way:

Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday that the cookie use resulted from a recent software upgrade. Normally, the site uses temporary, permissible cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, he said, but the software in use shipped with persistent cookies already on.

“After being tipped to the issue, we immediately disabled the cookies,” he said.

Completely believeable, especially if the NSA site uses third party components which probably use cookies independently of the official site policy. Granted, a little QA probably would have caught this, but who can afford the time or money for testing and adherence to standards?

So I agree with Jeff Jarvis that anyone trying to make hay out of this is simply happy to continue yipping the letters NSA. Kevin Aylward notes that the DNC Web site uses cookies set to expire in 28 years (the expiration date of the cookie served as “evidence” of the insidious nature of the plot).