Can the Government See Which Websites I Visit?

Keeping Track of Web Activity

There was a time, quaint as it might seem today, when Americans were worried about the government implanting cookies, the identifier files that websites place on your computer in order to recognize you. These days, though, we acquiesce to having Google, Facebook and other private-sector internet companies collect vast amounts of information on us [source: Curran]. So the threat of the government cookies may not seem like as big of a deal.

But if you want to know what information government might be collecting about you as a result of your visits to its websites, an article about privacy and security policies on, the federal portal for government services, gives a detailed rundown. When you visit the site, it records your internet protocol address, the numerical code that identifies the router and device you're using. In addition, it records the website from which you linked to the, the time and date of your visit, what searches you did and links that you clicked. It also even documents whether you use Chrome or Firefox, and what operating system is on your computer [source:].


The government website also implants cookies on your computer that identify you, though not by name. "We use web metrics services to track activity on," the website explains. "Government agencies only ever receive traffic statistics anonymously and, in the aggregate, officials can track trends in the website's usage." The site also explains how you can disable these so-called persistent cookies, in case you don't want to be tracked [source:].

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