Hear – Listen – Communicate

Call for the release of Whitehouse.gov web metrics
January 23, 2009, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Enterprise web analytics adoption, Personal, Taking action

I and others it the web analytics community quickly noticed that the new Whitehouse.gov website was using WebTrends to keep track of the site’s traffic patterns.  http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/government/showArticle.jh

It was also noticed they are using the web-beacon as opposed to log file analysis.  Bold move, considering this was quite an issue last time it was tried. http://portland.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2006/01/09/story5.html. In any case, it seems that the Obama team has made exceptions (or did WE make the exceptions) for the YouTube cookie. Here is an exceprt from the whitehouse.gov Privacy statement.

This persistent cookie is used by some third party providers to help maintain the integrity of video statistics. A waiver has been issued by the White House Counsel’s office to allow for the use of this persistent cookie.

I think the great cookie debate could go on forever.  The other alternative is to use this non-commercial and publicly owned website to showcase what web analytics really consists of.  Instead of trying to explain to laymen what is being captured (or at least captured by the whitehat users) is not PII (Personally Identifiable Information) they can simply review what is being captured in the form of WebTrends reports.  The public and government can use this information to guage what the public is looking at.

In a bid for a more open gov’t this could help inform consumers and may even help the WAA define standards.  While my first draft to the Whitehouse was much more long-winded, the US gov’t is only interested in the first 1000 characters of what you have to say 😉 So here is the version that made it through.  I will certainly post the outcome, I am sure it will not be as easy as this.

The Web Analytics community has noticed that whitehouse.gov is still utilizing WebTrends Software in order to measure its internet traffic.

It is my understanding that this is publically available data.  In what forms and which specific data can be shared under the new transparency polices created by President Barrak Obama?


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Interesting article. I love the new page and I can’t wait to see what the president brings to the table.

Comment by sarahgw

Tom, I think this is a great point, but the White House is bound by the Privacy Act, which may force them to release this data anyway (not that they will miss a PR opportunity). Specifically, it states that (from Wikipedia):

Each agency that maintains a system of rec­ords shall—

1. upon request by any individual … permit him … to review the record and have a copy made of all or any portion thereof in a form comprehensible to him …

2. permit the individual to request amendment of a record pertaining to him .

Comment by Tom Miller

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