Ghostery blocks the sneaky spies


When you surf the net, and visit a website, there are a number of trackers that are keeping an eye on your behaviour. This is how for instance Google or Statcounter are able to create profiles of visitors. Firefox now has a plugin that prevents that and protects the privacy of users. The Ghostery plugin has been a useful addon to Firefox and recently version 2.0 was made available, which encompasses TrackerBlock. I am really happy with its smooth performance. Besides blocking 'web bugs' Ghostery also blocks advertisements, widgets and other trackers.

The release of TrackerBlock another step in obtaining a collection of tool to protect your privacy and manage your relation with Third  Party Advertisers, Behavioral Targeters and web analytics.

Or in the words of the site itself:

"Ghostery alerts you about the web bugs, ad networks and widgets on every page on the web.
Web bugs are hidden scripts that track your behavior and are used by the sites you visit to understand their own audience."

Ghostery 2.0 is can be downloaded at Mozilla Addons as well.

Posted via email from John Dierckx

3 thoughts on “Ghostery blocks the sneaky spies

  1. Hey, its their website, how could it be sneaky for site owners (businesses) to want to understand who is anonymously visiting their shop, and make adjustments to the the site and product offerings in accordance with what their visitors like or don’t like? Doesn’t that help the shopper? What if you owned a retail shop and a new technology was developed that allowed shoppers as well as competitors to make themselves invisible before walking in the door, and they could stay in there as long as they wanted and have a good look around, take notes, snap photos, and cut and paste all of your creative work, without your knowledge? Same difference.

    • Dear Brad,

      I understand what you are saying but that is only half of the story. These trackers go well beyond your own interest as a store owner or someone with a business that has an online presence.

      Some shoppers perhaps don’t want to be “helped”. This is not necessarily about what these trackers do for you, that part anyone can understand. It is all about what happens with the collected data on the larger scale. Sure it is handy that YOU can use something like Google Analytics or Statcounter or one of the others for your own purpose. But there is more to it and you know that. Because you are not the only one using these trackers. You visit that one online store and after that several others. And each single business owner could say the same, and pretend that we are not aware that Google or Statcounter are using the bulk of the data to build a profile on you. They collect your behavior at let’s say http://www.arcisinsurance.com, and subsequently your behavior is tracked at some travel site, you end up being tracked as a member of some porno site and as a visitor of an online Thai food delivery store. After that you spend some time on Facebook and Myspace before you head for bed you download the latest speed dating API for boith sites. All of this is tracked and a profile starts too develop.

      That would still not be a problem but now your partner picks up the phone to hear that based on your profile you are offered a discounted holiday, in some Asian Erotic Resort which also offers the option to meet with women eligible for marriage.

      As a bonus, and via email from yet another company: if you extend your holiday stay you will receive the latest Macbook and a a series of three DVD’s about the application of “The Secret” because your profile shows an interest in Apple products and self help.

      As a reward for just reading the email you receive a 50% discount voucher on the latest erectile enhancement product, based on the fact that you have clicked on three google ads in relation to such products recently.

      Ok ok I am overdoing it and heck some would say, the m ore trackers the better. The fact is that while I may not care too much about my privacy because it is dead anyway, others do care and are genuinely concerned about what happens with data about their surfing behavior, online shopping behavior, their payment details and so on. But I guess you will catch my drift.

      For those the option of blocking a tracker or at least being aware that behavior is being monitored is valuable. Me, I like Ghostery a lot, because it brings back the choice of to be tracked or not back to me. In terms of your comment: how would you feel if you entered a shop and someone was following you along with a video cam too track anything you are doing there and not only that, he would share that information with all the other shops in the mall or even the city, would you not also get somewhat upset if you were addressed on your preferences without having them ever made explicit too the next shop owner, whether online or in real life?

      Just imagine, sorry we ran out Apple Macbooks which we already know you prefer but we do want you to come and have a look at our latest new IBM and Dell notebooks which can perform all the tasks you normally do on your computer. And hey, you only came in to have a look around for an espresso machine because the $2000 one does not produce the right kind of frothiness when you heat the milk and you heard from a friend that there is a $3200 espresso machine that does do the trick. Then the sales man says: “Ah you mean your friend in Christchurch New Zealand! In that case, we need to make you aware he is now on the $4000 version, which produces not only better froth, but also checks on the freshness of the milk AND the coffee. Let me get you one straight away and since your credit rating is impeccable we can offer you a great financing option for the thing.

      There is one condition to the financing though: you will need to de-register with that gambling site you ,like so much because based on our profile information you are going to lose big time if you continue to spend your time and money there.

      CATCH MY DRIFT? It is not the individual store or site, it is the larger picture. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR DATA IS?

      • I agree with many of your points from the consumer point of view, John. Some ominous illustrations of profiling are depicted in director Aaron Russo’s documentary film, “Freedom to Fascism”
        I don’t like being filmed in every store I visit, but it has been happening longer than the internet has been around and now with facial recognition software, your entire daily routine can be chronicled on video, if all the stores and the cameras on the street were to batch their data. The way things are going, it will be the government more than the marketers that we will have to worry about doing exactly that, if its not happening already. As Steve Rambam said, “privacy is dead, get over it.”

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