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It seems governments worldwide could be doing more surveillance on citizens than it is thought. A new study has revealed that the prevalence of “Big Brother” may be greater than previously believed. 

G20 nations tracking user activity in government sites without consent 

Researchers discovered that most government sites in the G20 member nations incorporate third-party surveillance cookies without consent from their users. The G20 comprises the European Union and 19 other nations. Member states include the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, China, Germany, France, Australia, Argentina, and Brazil. The organization’s goals are to solve global economic issues, mitigate climate change, and create sustainable technology. 

Even though several nations have severe user privacy legislation, the international group observes that nine out of ten official websites install third-party tracking cookies. The researchers looked at 5,500 websites connected to governments, international organizations, and government COVID-19 information websites during the epidemic to determine the scope of this issue.

Research professor at IMDEA Networks Nikolaos Laoutaris said, “Our results indicate that official governmental, international organizations’ websites and other sites that serve public health information related to COVID-19 are not held to higher standards regarding respecting user privacy than the rest of the web, which is an oxymoron given the push of many of those governments for enforcing GDPR.” 

Governments add undisclosed cookies to sites

First-party cookies are generated by the website being viewed, whereas outside parties generate third-party cookies via embedded website content. Additionally, there’s the practice of “cookie ghostwriting,” where a third party generates cookies on account of another, leaving the source of the cookie undisclosed.

Results indicated that most nations had installed cookies on government websites without the user’s knowledge. Japan had the least amount of websites with cookies, but the number is still high at 77.2%. Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have cookies on all their government sites. Most G20 countries fall between 87% and 97%, with the US having unwanted cookies to 93.5%of the 1,239 websites examined.