spy games

If Google Can Track Your Online Activity, It’s a Safe Bet the NSA Can Too

FILE - This Sept. 19, 2007, file photo, shows the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. The government is secretly collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of Verizon under a top-secret court order, according to the Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Cailf., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Obama administration is defending the National Security Agency's need to collect such records, but critics are calling it a huge over-reach. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Photo: Charles Dharapak

It’s not as dramatic as the NSA tracking you and your associates via cell tower, but the latest Snowden revelation may have an impact on a type of technology we use every day, mostly without realizing it. The Washington Post reports that the agency can take the “cookies” and location data used by Internet companies to track customers and use them to identify targets for further hacking. The NSA is particularly fond of Google PREF cookies, which it can obtain with an order from a FISA court (Google’s role in the process is unclear). Companies have argued that the tracking is harmless and actually helps their customers, but the news may increase pressure to give users more control over how they’re tracked online for commercial purposes. For those who enjoy the service, surely you’ll still have the option to see creepy ads for products you just scoped out on another website. 

If Websites Can Track You, the NSA Can Too