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Home » Hacking News » NSA and GCHQ use Google's cookies to identify targets

NSA and GCHQ use Google's cookies to identify targets

by Nikola Strahija on December 11th, 2013 According to documents released by Edward Snowden, NSA and GCHQ (UK version of NSA) use Google's cookies, primarily designed for interest-based ad-targeting, to identify their targets.
Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

The online advertising industry has been saying for many years that these cookies are of benefit to the consumers by showing ads that are more likely to be of interest to consumers, privacy advocates have been warning the public about the public about possible misuse. The government(s) apparently can use the same cookies to identify and pinpoint their targets.

These cookies probably provide information like browsing history (if those sites use any of google's services such as analytics/adsense, or if they are accessed through google's search results), person's interests, IP address and a narrower location. While these cookies do not hold any actual, personal data but only a unique ID number, we can all witness that Google and other ad networks can match it on-the-fly. It is unknown whether Google received requests to share cookie data with any of these agencies.

Usually, companies are prohibited from disclosing the nature of national security requests they receive. Google and other companies have been fighting the government in court for the ability to disclose general information about these requests. So far unsuccessfully.

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