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Ghostery sells the data it collects to advertisers

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#1 niks2456



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Posted 20 June 2013 - 15:29

Cookie-blocking browser plugin Ghostery feeds data to the ad industry



The popular browser add-on called Ghostery blocks tracking code on websites, improving page load speeds and narrowing a user’s footprint on the web. It’s often touted as an essential part of the online privacy toolkit, and made the list in our recent guest blog about internet privacy.

What most users don’t realize, reports the MIT Technology Review, is that Ghostery’s parent company, Evidon, sells the data it collects to advertisers.

It should be made clear that opting-out of sharing information within Ghostery excludes you from this data collection, and Evidon reportedly abides by this request.

Evidon’s co-founder and CEO, Scott Meyer, says there is no conflict in the two roles his company plays in offering users a tool to hide from the ad industry while also providing data about those users to advertising companies.

“Anything that gives people more transparency and control is good for the industry,” says Meyer.

Evidon sells two services to its clients. The first profiles the tracking code from a website, and allows site operators to view where it is coming from and how it affects the speed of their pages. The second provides advertisers with statistics on how common trackers from other companies are on the web.

The first, says Meyer, is very important because site owners often don’t realize what tracking code from other sites is being used on their visitors. “It’s usual for the operator of a website to say, ‘These 10 companies on my site I know about and these 10 I didn’t,’ ” says Meyer.

Not everyone is convinced that the duality of Evidon’s role, straddling the line between consumer privacy and the advertising industry, is as harmless as Meyer suggests.

Evidon sells a significant amount of data to ad companies wanting to ensure their compliance with the AdChoices program. AdChoices is supposed to help people opt-out of targeted ads, and Evidon has a vested interest in the program’s success in competition with alternatives like “Do Not Track” features that are becoming standard in some browsers.



#2 Phouchg


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Posted 20 June 2013 - 17:23

Gah! :pinch:


Anyway, I figure their hypocrisy affects me only if the checkbox of "anonymous statistics" is selected? In that case I'll keep using it, because certain pages do load faster and considerably reduce requests for when the bandwidth is already taxed by something else.

#3 +John Teacake

John Teacake


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Posted 20 June 2013 - 18:44

###### Sake!

#4 jakem1


    Neowinian Senior

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 19:19

Here's the explanation that appears next to the Enable Ghostrank setting in the Options page:

GhostRank sends anonymous statistical information about the trackers, ads, and other scripts that Ghostery encounters and the pages on which they're found. It does not make use of browser cookies or flash cookies and stores no unique information about the user (not even an IP address).
Ghostery uses this information to create panel data about the proliferation of these scripts and shares this data with the Ghostery community, companies interested in measuring their own activity and compliance with privacy standards across the web, and organizations dedicated to holding these companies accountable. GhostRank data is not used to target advertising and is never shared for that purpose. For more details on exactly what GhostRank collects, please visit our FAQ.
By participating in GhostRank, you're agreeing to become part of this anonymous panel and you're helping to support Ghostery as you browse the web.

That's pretty clear if you ask me and it's also the reason why I don't use Ghostrank. They're up front about what they're doing.