OMB still plans to release new Web cookies policy

The Office of Management and Budget still plans to unveil new rules that would allow federal agencies to incorporate tracking cookies into their websites

Current law bans the use of those tools, which track a user's browsing history on a particular website and help webmasters better individualize a page's content. Those so-called cookies are ubiquitous in the private sphere, but have remained blocked with few exceptions at the federal level since 2000 because of privacy concerns.

The White House's top information officer, Vivek Kundra, previously told NextGov that OMB would release a more relaxed guidance on the use of cookies this Wednesday, just in time for the second deadline in President Barack Obama's Open Government Directive.

However, OMB never released those rules. An unnamed spokesperson later told Congress Daily that Kundra actually misspoke about the deadline.

But a spokesman for the Office of Science and Technology Policy told The Hill on Friday that the delay does not now mean OMB has abandoned its plans to change federal cookie rules.

"Work is well underway on a new cookies approach, but it isn’t ready for release yet," the spokesman said. He did not provide a date by which the guidance would be ready.

Still, OMB and its top regulatory arm, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affars, did release a host of new rules and regulations meant to clarify concerns about the federal bureaucracy's use of the Web.

Among the guidances released Wednesday was a memo clarifying a litany of ambiguities stemming from the federal Paperwork Reduction Act, which typically requires agencies to spend months obtaining approval before launching information collection efforts online.