Akamai's content delivery network to embed the president's weekly address on the White House web site. The White House will still post videos to YouTube, but, by default, it now directs visitors to Vimeo instead of Google's streaming video service.The president's weekly video address was often called the 'YouTube address,' but after complaints from privacy activists, the White House has now decided to leave YouTube behind and use
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In the past, we also chided the White House for seemingly giving preferential treatment to YouTube over other video streaming services, but it looks like privacy concerns were the main reason for this weekend's switch. Because Google uses long-term tracking cookies whenever somebody watches a video, the White House's web site was breaking the federal government's strict rules about using cookies on government sites - at least until the White House issued itself an exemption from these rules.
As Chris Soghoian notes, the timing of this move is somewhat odd, as YouTube just rolled out a new feature called delayed cookies, which lets those who embed a video decide if they want to allow Google to set a non-session cookie when others are watching the embedded video. However, it seems like this move came just a bit too late for the White House.
Of course, the White House will continue to post the video addresses on YouTube as well, but thanks to this new solution, the White House website will not set a cookie on your machine every time you play an embedded video anymore.
Even though YouTube is the de-facto standard for web video today, visitors to the White House web site won't have to miss out on most of YouTube's most compelling features. The new player allows for videos to be embedded or to be downloaded as an MP4 file. Videos can also be played back in full-screen mode and feature captions in English and Spanish. Interestingly, the player now also features a new link: 'also available here,' which currently points to the White House's page on Vimeo. While this is nice, it would also be nice if this link actually pointed to the wide range of services that the White House uploads the weekly address to. Another complaint we have is that the new embeds now automatically start playing whenever a page is opened, without the option to turn this off.