The Guardian bugs its web readers
Although a tech expert consulted by TAE says that cookies can only be used to track activity within the domain which actually placed the cookie there, and cannot relay all web activity back to the cookie owner, The Guardian claims that cookies can be used to “keep track of the different websites you have visited.” Whether this was simply an error, or is perhaps based on secret knowledge of the way in which its own cookies operate, is not clear.
It is also unclear whether or not the cookies still used by The Guardian to monitor its readers’ activities are of the same type of cookies no longer used by the NSA. However, just like the NSA cookies, which were so-called persistent cookies that would not expire until the year 2035, The Guardian cookie found on TAE’s computer is also persistent, with an expiration date of 2015, well beyond the normal life of a computer. According to The Guardian, those previously used by the NSA were “invisible to the user and are hidden on a web page and installed on any machine that visits it.” This description also seems to fit the profile of the cookies used by The Guardian. When entering The Guardian’s website, there is no visible notification that cookies are being installed, and The Guardian admits to installing a cookie on the computer of every visitor to its website.
The uncovering of these ominous parallels between the secretive NSA and The Guardian come at a time of already increasing pressure on The Guardian over its deceptive behavior towards its readers. Just last week it came under fire over its dubious use of statistics on two separate occasions, and these new revelations are sure to raise additional questions, placing The Guardian into an even more defensive posture.