The popular Firefox add-on, Ghostery, was recently acquired by Better Advertising, which is building a vast system to monitor compliance with new privacy rules for online behavioral advertising. I continue to get questions that indicate confusion about how Ghostery works. Because Better Advertising has portrayed Ghostery as a way to “see 99% of behavioral targeting,” it’s important to understand what Ghostery really sees.
This is not to say that Ghostery isn’t a useful tool — it is, and we link to it on PrivacyChoice. The problem is that Ghostery in its current form is being oversold both as a privacy protection tool for consumers and a compliance tool for the industry. In fact, Ghostery needs to be fundamentally re-engineered to be a truly effective tool to detect online tracking.
In the mean time, Better Advertising would be well served to clarify the presentation on Ghostery’s site to make it clearer to consumers what Ghostery really does (and doesn’t do). Credibility is too important to the self-regulatory initiative to be anything less than completely clear.
Note: Please be sure to read Better Advertising’s comment to this post, which includes an update on the product roadmap for Ghostery.