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[liberationtech] FB-like "Twitter-connect" soon. How can we avoid all this tracking?

Sarah A. Downey sarah at getabine.com
Wed May 30 12:07:12 PDT 2012


I responded to this thread earlier to plug my own plugin (yes, pun),
DoNotTrackPlus
(DNT+) <http://www.abine.com/dntdetail.php>, but I can answer your Ghostery
question.  All in all, both add-ons are very similar, simple, functional
starters for people who want privacy while they're browsing.  DNT+ ships
with tracking blocked by default, while Ghostery does
not<http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/249964/ghostery-machine-tracking-trackers>.
Both add-ons let you whitelist particular trackers and sites.

However, the biggest complaint we hear from our users is that Ghostery was
purchased<http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/120927/better-advertising-gobbles-ghostery-bolsters-bt-m.html>by
Better Advertising, Inc., an advertising company built
around--duh--making more effective ads.  They've since changed their name
from Better Advertising to Evidon, but they're still built around making
the advertising industry more efficient, not necessarily giving users
greater privacy.  They depend on Ghostery users to opt into GhostRank, a
system that shares de-identified user data with advertisers.  From Dan
Tynan at ITWorld<http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/249964/ghostery-machine-tracking-trackers>
:

Readers should keep in mind that Evidon, which purchased Ghostery in
> January 2010<http://blog.evidon.com/2010/01/19/better-advertising-acquires-ghostery/>when the company was still called The Better Advertising Project, has a
> vested interest in industry self-regulation of online tracking. Evidon<http://www.evidon.com/about/>believes if consumers know what information is being gathered about them
> and by whom, it will alleviate their fears about tracking. Evidon sells
> its data services and compliance tools to the Web tracking industry<http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2122603/self-reg-icon-millions-revenue>
> .
>

>From a MediaPost
article<http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/120927/better-advertising-gobbles-ghostery-bolsters-bt-m.html>about
the acquisition and GhostRank, their CEO, Scott Meyer, says that "the
company will use that panel data [from GhostRank] to determine whether Web
companies are honoring users' decisions to opt out of behavioral targeting
-- or receiving ads based on sites they have previously visited."

More differences between DNT+ and Ghostery are highlighted in this ITWorld
article<http://www.itworld.com/it-managementstrategy/248582/how-kill-web-trackers-dead>,
but I'll summarize below:

1. DNT+ is faster (based on page load/processing times)
2. DNT+ sets opt out cookies and the Do Not Track header and blocks more
categories
of things (like facebook buttons and twitter buttons collecting your info)
3. DNT+ generates far fewer Javascript errors on the top 10,000 web sites
4. We're not an advertising company making our money from advertisers and
businesses paying us for ad data and compliance, unlike Evidon.  We have a
freemium model and are funded by our investors and our customers.
5.  Unlike Ghostery/Evidon, we don't collect any of your data when you use
DNT+.  The only communications a user's DNT+ has with our servers is 1),
noting that a download occurred, which lets us know how many users we have;
and 2), a daily ping to our servers for updated tracking and blocking
rules.  You can start using DNT+ with 1 click and no exchange of your
personal information.

I'd be curious to see the answer to your question about what data is leaked
back to Ghostery's servers.  Clearly that's a different answer depending on
whether the user has opted into GhostRank.

-Sarah

On Wed, May 30, 2012 at 1:50 PM, Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb
<ei8fdb at ei8fdb.org>wrote:

> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
> Hash: SHA1
>
> I may have the wrong end of the stick but in my mind, a solution would be:
>
> Use a Site-specific browser/Single-Site Browser (SSB), such as Prism, or
> Fluid. An SSB is a software application that is dedicated to accessing
> pages from a single source (site) on a computer network. [1] [2]
>
> Does anyone have an opinion on the browser plugin Ghostery? [3] It "seems"
> to allow web browser users to block these cross site tracking bugs, however
> I have not yet tested Ghostery fully. According to their website:
>
> What is Ghostery?
>
> Ghostery is a browser tool available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera
> and Internet Explorer. It scans the page for  scripts, pixels, and other
> elements and notifies the user of the companies whose code is present on
> the page.
>
> These page elements aren't otherwise visible to the user, and often not
> detailed in the page source code. Ghostery allows users to learn more about
> these companies and their practices, and block the page elements from
> loading if the user chooses.
>
> "block.... if the user chooses" - this for me is the key.
>
> Has anyone tested this plugin to see what information is leaked back to
> Ghostery servers?
>
> thanks.
> Bernard
>
> [1]: https://mozillalabs.com/en-US/prism/ Unfortunately now discontinued.
> [2]: http://fluidapp.com/
> [3]: http://www.ghostery.com/about
>
>
> On 25 May 2012, at 08:33, The Dod wrote:
>
> > It used to be easy: Facebook spies on you when you browse 3rd party
> sites, twitter doesn't.
> >
> >
> > But now that twitter begins to spy on users who visit a 3rd site you
> visit has a "tweet this" link, (and updates its privacy policy
> accordingly), would webmaster gradually lose the option to include
> "non-snitching" share links like twitter's /intent/tweet/ and facebook's
> /sharer.php?
> >
> > Even if the situation doesn't escalate in the future, like buttons are
> already spying on you today (not on me, because I don't have a facebook
> account, but pretty soon twitter will be on my tail).
> >
> > How can we minimize the damage?
> > The key (IMHO) is a webmaster (and user) awareness campaign to use a
> [yet to be developed] "fetch-a-button" ajax widget with buttons like (lame
> phrasing): "I want to like this" or "I want to tweet this". These would
> fetch the code (and thus - snitch) only for people planning to publicly
> admit they've watched the page :-)
> >
>
>
> - --------------------------------------
> Bernard / bluboxthief / ei8fdb
>
> IO91XM / www.ei8fdb.org
>
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-- 
*Sarah A. Downey*
Privacy Analyst  |  Attorney
Abine <http://www.abine.com>, The Online Privacy Company
t:  @SarahADowney <https://twitter.com/#%21/SarahADowney>  |  p:
800.928.1987
Blogging on privacy at Abine.com/Blog
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