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To the Editor In a recent Research Letter published in this journal, Huesch1 addresses the important issue of protecting the privacy of individuals who search for health-related information on the Internet. Among the 20 health-related websites he examined for the presence of “third-party tracking elements” and leakage of search terms to third-party tracking entities, 4 are National Institutes of Health (NIH) websites (National Cancer Institute, National Library of Medicine’s PubMed and MedlinePlus, and the main NIH site). Huesch appears cognizant that these 4 websites are federal government websites, but his letter does not clearly or accurately represent how and why government agencies use tracking elements on their websites and the restrictions placed on federal agencies with respect to data collection and sharing.
Burklow JT, Johnson L, Humphreys B. Privacy Protection During Internet Search for Health-Related Information. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):476. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13516