Ashkan Soltani, Andrea Peterson, and Barton Gellman:
Apps transmit their locations to Google and other Internet companies because ads tied to a precise physical location can be more lucrative than generic ads. But in the process, they appear to tip off the NSA to a mobile device’s precise physical location. That makes it easier for the spy agency to engage in the sophisticated tracking techniques the Post described in a story Dec. 4.
It makes perfect sense for the NSA to use data from cookies to track targets, because ,as the article says, nearly everyone has a Google cookie on their machine. This site serves three: WordPress (I think there may be two here, one for WP stats and another for your login/remember me), Mint (self-hosted analytics), and Go Squared. I am now considering removing all three, especially since I don’t need the stats to show advertisers.1
There are many options for limiting how many cookies your computer stores, but it does break some websites and at the very least is fairly annoying. It’d be less profitable if Google removed the unique ID, but it is the best thing they can do for users.
I mostly use stats to see who is linking in to me, and how well received each post is. ↩