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Web Measurement and Customization Opt-out

Persistent Cookies

Many websites use "persistent cookie" technology. A persistent cookie is a small text file that this website places on your web browser so that it can gather anonymous summary demographic information, and remember your browser when it is used to visit our site again later—kind of like cookie crumbs! (Hence the name.) These cookies uniquely identify a browser on a computer, but never a person. In other words, if the same person uses Chrome and Internet Explorer, two unique browser coolies will be assigned, one for each browser, so that person well be counted as two different visitors because visits are based on browsers, not computers or persons. Most Internet browsers automatically accept persistent cookies. Although using persistent cookies creates a much better experience for you while using the site, most sites will also work without them. If you don't want to accept cookies, you can edit your browser's options to stop accepting persistent cookies or to prompt you before accepting a cookie from the websites you visit. Below you'll find directions to help you disable cookies in some of the most popular desktop browsers and mobile browsers.

Important: If you choose to set your browser to reject cookies from every website you visit, this may adversely affect the functionality of non-government websites you visit.

Changing Cookies Settings in Popular Desktop Browsers

Firefox Version 3.5 or Later

  • In the "Tools" menu, select "Options"
  • Under the "Firefox will:" dropdown, select "Use custom settings for history"
  • Uncheck the "Accept Cookies from Sites" box to block all cookies Or
  • Click the "Exceptions" button to enter specific websites that you wish to allow/disallow to set cookies

Internet Explorer version 6 or later

  • In the "Tools" menu, select "Internet Options"
  • Click the "Privacy" tab
  • Move the "Settings" slider up or down to adjust your cookie acceptance settings (moving the slider all the way to the top will block all cookies) Or
  • Click the "Sites" button to enter specific websites that you wish to allow/disallow to set cookies

Safari version 4 or later

  • Click the geared wheel icon in the top right of your browser window.
  • Select "Preferences"
  • Select the "Security" tab
  • Under "Accept Cookies:", click the "Never" option to block all cookies

Chrome version 4 or later

  • Click the wrench icon in the top right of your browser window
  • Select "Options"
  • Click the "Under the Hood" tab
  • Click the "Content Settings" button
  • Click the option to "Block sites from setting any data" to block all cookies Or
  • Click the "Exceptions" button to enter specific websites that you wish to allow/disallow to set cookies

Disabling cookies in popular mobile browsers

Mobile Safari

  • From your home screen on your iPhone or iPad, click "Settings"
  • Click on "Safari"
  • Click on "Accept Cookies"
  • Select "Never" to block all cookies

Opera Mini on a Blackberry device

  • From within the Opera Mini browser, press the menu key.
  • Scroll down to access the drop down menu of options
  • Select "Settings"
  • Select "Privacy"
  • Change the "Accept cookies" option to "Off" to block all cookies

Android Browser

  • From within the Android browser, hit the menu key.
  • Select "More"
  • Select "Settings"
  • Uncheck the "Accept Cookies" option to block all cookies

Disabling Google Demographic and Interest Reports

Many sites also use Google Demographic and Interest reports to gather anonymous summary demographic information about website visitors such as gender, age range, and areas of interest for adults over the age of 18. You can prevent your data from being collected and used by Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on".

Government Cookie Policy

The Office of Management and Budget released guidance in June 2010, updating how Federal agencies can use web measurement and customization technologies, such as persistent cookies.

USA.gov is providing a central place to provide instructions for "opting-out" from one of the most common forms of web measurement and customization technologies, through disabling cookies on your web browser. We also provide instructions on opting out of Google Analytics.