Is the government going too far? A new study has discovered that “Big Brother” may be more widespread than anyone thinks. Among the countries that make up the G20, researchers found the vast majority of government websites add third-party tracking cookies without their users’ consent.
The G20 is an international forum which includes 19 countries and the European Union. The forum focuses on solving issues connected to the global economy, climate change mitigation, and the development of sustainable technology. The members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The international team notes that, in some of these countries, nine in 10 official sites add third-party tracker cookies — even if they have strict user privacy laws. To uncover the scale of this problem, the researchers examined 5,500 websites tied to international organizations, governments, and official COVID-19 information sites during the pandemic.
Their study comes at a time when citizens across the globe are providing information through government websites at an unprecedented rate.
“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,” notes Nikolaos Laoutaris, a research professor at IMDEA Networks, in a media release.