Posts Tagged ‘advertiser tracking’

25th December
2013
written by bob

This is a blog I have been meaning to write for quite a while now. ┬áToday’s the day.

In the wave of security and privacy concerns over the past 2-3 years, I have become more and more disturbed by the number of tracking scripts, beacons, etc. that websites have employed to watch our every click on the Internet. From Facebook to Google to your favourite news site and online shopping site (ahem…Amazon), they’re all watching everything we do.

BEFORE blocking update(s).

BEFORE blocking update(s).

AFTER updating blocking on JumpTime.

AFTER updating blocking on JumpTime.

Do I have anything to hide online? No. BUT, that is not the point. Personally, I believe everyone should be able to surf the Internet without worry that everything click or mouse movement is being tracked/recorded by who-knows-what-site. It’s not exactly anonymous but at least it would be “some” privacy. While there are several great services that you can pay for such as numerous VPN sites which will help you surf the net anonymously, most people do not necessarily want to shell out $6-12 (USD) per month just to do so. (Incidentally, I also use a VPN especially when I’m force to use public wifi however, that is another blog for another day.)

Enter Ghostery.

Ghostery is a browser plugin that allows you to view all site tracking scripts. It’s really an eye opener to see how many there actually are. I had always know of a few mainstream ones BUT you would be surprised by the number of other smaller trackers. Ever heard of Gravatar, New Relic, or Quigo AdSonar? Exactly, me either. As Ghostery states, “it sees the invisible web” – all the things you do not see visible to your eye. Ghostery is quite easy to install in any of your favourite browsers (Chrome, FireFox, IE, etc). Just follow the install instructions on their site. You can control blocking of EVERYTHING and you also have the option of “whitelisting” sites. Whitelisting allows you to specify a site or tracker is okay to be enabled and you allow the beacon to run. Inadvertently, blocking some trackers could possibly interfere with some site features (pictures, videos, etc) however whitelisting trackers will alleviate such issue. Ghostery really gives you the control you want and not the control the site “tells” you, you want. Here is an example of the number of trackers/beacons from just 1 site (I don’t remember which one):

This is one website.  Looks how many trackers there are here.  I have blocked almost all of them!

This is one website. Looks how many trackers there are here. I have blocked almost all of them!

I have been using Ghostery for the better part of 2 years and I have no issues with it. It works as promoted. And…it’s SIMPLE! Did I mentioned Ghostery is anonymous? It is. This is probably one of the best features they provide. No information is exchanged unless the user opts in to enable GhostRank. You can read more about GhostRank on their site. Regarding privacy for Ghostery (taken right from their site):

PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY:
Ghostery is built and maintained for users that care about their online privacy, and is engineered with privacy as a primary goal. Ghostery use is anonymous. No registrations or sign-ups are required. The Ghostery plug-in does not place session cookies into your browser. Neither the Ghostery application nor Evidon receives any data from Ghostery users unless the user opts-in to participate in GhostRank. GhostRank data is anonymous, it is NEVER used for advertising targeting purposes, and is only shared in an aggregated, non-personal, statistical form.

Finally! A company that understands privacy from the customer’s point of view and not their “self-imposed, you-do-privacy-our-way” bullshit. Thank you Ghostery. You actually “get it” and you are looking out for people and not the corporation.

Au revoir, mes amis!