WASHINGTONNSA using online advertisers’ ‘cookies’ and location data

The National Security Agency is secretly piggybacking on the tools that enable Internet advertisers to track consumers, using “cookies” and location data to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.

The agency’s internal presentation slides, provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, show that when companies follow consumers on the Internet to better tailor their advertising, the technique opens the door for similar tracking by the government.

According to the documents, the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, are using the small tracking files called “cookies” that advertising networks place on computers to identify people browsing the Internet. The intelligence agencies have made particular use of the “PREFID,” part of Google-specific tracking software known as the “PREF” cookie.

This cookie typically doesn’t contain personal information, such as someone’s name or email address, but it does contain numeric codes that enable Web sites to uniquely identify a person’s browser.

In addition to tracking Web visits, the PREFID allows NSA to single out an individual’s communications among the sea of Internet data in order to send out software that can hack that person’s computer.

MONTEVIDEO, UraguayUraguay moves to create legal marijuana marketplace

Uruguay’s Senate gave final congressional approval Tuesday to create the world’s first national marketplace for legal marijuana, an audacious experiment that will have the government oversee production, sales and consumption of a drug illegal almost everywhere else.

The vote was 16 to 13, with the governing Broad Front majority united in favor. The plan now awaits the signature of President Jose Mujica.Two-thirds of Uruguayans oppose a government-run marijuana industry, according to opinion polls. But Mujica said he feels bureaucrats can do a better job of containing addictions and beating organized crime than police, soldiers and prison guards.

— From news service reports