Yesterday and today many smart people have been gathered for the Gov2.0 conference to discuss bringing our government into the 21st century, Web-wise. One important topic is the integration of public and private Web services, particularly how government sites can leverage privately-provided social networking, site analytics and communications tools.
The privacychoice system provides a glimpse into how this integration is progressing. By sampling pages on top websites, the privacychoice system maps which tracking networks we find on those sites in order to create a Network Privacy Profile. This Profile gathers in one place the summaries and excerpts for the relevant third-party privacy policies. This provides a composite of the privacy practices citizens sign up to now when using government sites. Click through from this list to see the individual profiles for top-traffic government sites we have scanned.
Of the top several dozen dot-gov sites in our system, here’s the breakdown of how many of them have integrated third-party-served content or services:
34% Google Analytics
(No other companies were found on more than a one or two government sites and were less than 5%.)
From a privacy point of view, it’s concerning to see AddThis with such a high share, given their relatively weak approach to privacy issues. Also, although it’s no surprise to see Google Analytics making inroads (it’s a great, free service), this comes despite ambiguities in Google’s formal policies as to how user data is handled (more on that in a future post). CrazyEgg and Webtrends present the least concern, since their policies expressly disavow sharing information other than with the site where collected (thus no cross-site profiles are created).