Security

Ad-Blocking Extension Ghostery Actually Sells Data To Advertisers

If you’ve read our features on how to protect your privacy and stop everyone from tracking you on the web, you’ve heard us mention Ghostery. It’s a solid privacy tool, but Mashable reports that you should stay away from its opt-in “GhostRank” feature, which sells data on the ads you block to the ad companies themselves.

Ghostery is owned by Evidon, a company that collects and provides data to advertising companies. It has a feature called GhostRank that you can check to “support” them. The problem is, Ghostery blocks sites from gathering personal information on you — but Ghostrank will take note the ads you encounter and which ones you block, and sends that information back to advertisers so they can better formulate their ads to avoid being blocked. The data is anonymous, and Ghostery still does everything it promises to do to protect your privacy.

You could argue this is a good thing, and that it will help advertisers create better, less intrusive ads. The other argument is that GhostRank is a tool to build a better mousetrap, as it were — unblockable ads and better tracking cookies. That’s not lost on privacy advocates:

A major source of business for Evidon is selling data that helps ad companies ensure their compliance with AdChoices, a self-regulatory program supposed to help people opt out of targeted ads. Some experts say AdChoices is confusing to consumers, and it has been criticised by U.S. and EU policymakers. “Evidon has a financial incentive to encourage the program’s adoption and discourage alternatives like Do Not Track and cookie blocking as well as to maintain positive relationships with intrusive advertising companies,” says Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford grad student and privacy advocate active in efforts to develop a standard “Do Not Track” feature for web browsers.

Hit the link below to read the full story at Mashable, and then check out our favourite privacy protection tools if you need more options.

Popular Ad Blocker Also Helps the Ad Industry [Mashable]