President Barack Obama gets a lot of props from new media types for his campaign's use of social networking and other online tools for message desimination and organizing. What Howard Dean launched in his White House bid a few years ago Obama exploited to maximum effect at John McCain's expense.
But not everyone is enamored with the President's online efforts post-election. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (full disclosure: GLONO is a longtime supporter and donor to the EFF) is asking why the White House is waving its longstanding ban on cookies in its use of embedded YouTube videos.
"Overall, we believe visitors to government Web sites should be able to view official information securely, without fear of being tracked either by the government itself or by third parties such as YouTube," EFF director Cindy Cohn wrote Tuesday in a letter to White House counsel Gregory Craig. "If the government uses the services of private companies, it should make sure that those companies employ the same privacy-protective standards that the government sets for itself."
This gets to the heart of privacy vs. convenience in new media. Persistent, "flash" cookies are often necessary for many social networking apps to work. They need to store SOME data on your behavior and interests to create relevant content and accurate reporting. Honestly, I haven't heard discussions around cookies as a privacy concern since the turn of the millennium, but it's an interesting point. Is it truly a concern for anyone, let alone a private partner of a public site, to be gathering any data on users? My gut reaction to this is: so what? But does anyone else care?