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Nevada Considering New Web Privacy Protections for COVID Sites

May 19, 2021 by TWN Staff
Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Dan McCue)

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada lawmakers are fast-tracking emergency legislation to bolster web privacy protections after a nonprofit news organization revealed the state’s COVID-19 vaccine information site contained the most trackers in the country.

The legislation, introduced by Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus, would broaden the scope of Nevada’s existing privacy law.

Currently the law requires only that commercial website operators explain how they collect information and give consumers a way to opt out of the data collection.

Titus’s proposal would expand to cover any website running a public awareness campaign by or on behalf of government officials.

In March, The Markup, a nonprofit organization based in New York City, founded in 2018 with the goal of focusing on data-driven journalism, published an investigation testing every state vaccination website in the United States for privacy and performance. 

The Nevada site, which is run through a partnership with a nonprofit organization called Immunize Nevada, was an outlier in the test. 

 The news organization found that several states at the time of its reporting did not have any cookies or ad trackers. The site with the second-highest number of cookies, Utah, had 22 — less than half of what was found on Nevada’s site.

Nevada’s website contained 24 ad trackers and 45 third-party cookies. Ranking states by number of cookies, Nevada has more than the lowest 46 states combined.

Officials with the immunization outreach effort told The Markup the nonprofit uses digital advertising to “educate and inform Nevadans about these vaccines, and uses Google Analytics to track the performance of these ads.”

The site also interacts with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which increases cookie counts, they said.

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