Why privacy should be your number one online concern – Ghostery featured in TechRadar

July 13, 2018By Ghostery Team

Ghostery tells us why privacy issues can help shape the future of the Internet

How we use the Internet and the information shared, knowingly or otherwise, has become a seemingly endless issue of debate. Data scandals are aplenty and, with constant legislative overhaul underway across the world, the issue of online privacy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

We spoke with Jeremy Tillman, director of product at advertising and tracker-blocking guru Ghostery, about how the average internet user can protect themselves in chaotic times. If you’ve also noticed your browser isn’t as fast as it used to be while you’re bombarded with the umpteenth headline about fake news, you should know they’re all connected.

  • What do you do differently than a standard ad-blocker, and why should the average internet user concern themselves with seeking out this type of browser extension?

Ghostery is an all-in-one privacy adblocker that gives users the cleanest, fastest, safest browsing experience on the internet. Our tool uses blocklist technology and AI-powered antitracking protection alongside our built-in ad blocker to stop trackers, block ads and protect user privacy.

Unlike Ghostery, most standard ad-blockers only block ads. They do this by blocking requests that websites make that might be downloading an ad. To do this, ad-blockers use lists of rules, also known as filter lists, that are used to determine if a request might be loading an ad. This is how most ad blockers work and, in fact, this is how Ghostery’s Enhanced Ad Blocker works as well.

However, Ghostery takes several steps beyond this simple approach to not only block ads, but to also block third-party trackers, which includes site analytics, marketing tools, audio/video players and any other technologies that load content and collect user data. Ghostery does this with our Enhanced Antitracking and Smart Blocking features, which uses AI to intelligently block trackers a remove any personal data they might be transmitting and to optimize page performance and guarantee privacy. Coupled with our built-in adblocker, these technologies make Ghostery the most comprehensive privacy and adblocking tool out there.

  • What information is being tracked on websites and why is it useful to those collecting it? How does it compare to what social media networks like Facebook do?

The trackers on websites carefully record every move of the online consumer and collect a variety of personal information, which can be used to draw conclusions about an individual’s shopping habits, financial situation, political and religious beliefs. They can also collect extremely private health information, like your sexual orientation and if you have taken an HIV test.

Facebook tracks users through its own network of trackers and cookies. Trackers are snippets of code on a website that transmit data back and forth to a company’s server, whereas cookies are small files stored on a website that hold user information — for example, when a retailer remembers what’s in your shopping cart. Facebook uses cookies to store key account information on your browser, such as your unique member ID. When you visit a website that has one of Facebook’s technologies, such as a “like” button or its ad tracker, it can use the cookie stored on your browser to read your unique member ID and thus determine that you visited that website. These trackers are then able to communicate your behavior on that website back to its servers, including what links you clicked on or what products you bought.  They add this information to a profile they have on you that not only includes intimate information you shared on Facebook, such as your age or sexual orientation, but that also includes vast troves of your browsing behavior. Facebook then allows third-parties to indirectly use these profiles on its platform to target you on Facebook and across the web with very specific ads based on your behaviors and preferences.

To read more of TechRadar’s conversation with Jeremy Tillman, click here.