Ghostery, the popular ad blocker, has just released its first major update to its browser extension after being acquired n February.
Ghostery 8 is available on Firefox, Chrome, and others, and comes embedded in Cliqz, the privacy-focused browser backed by Mozilla which bought Ghostery this year.
The changes are designed to appeal to more mainstream users who care about privacy, but don't want to fiddle about enabling or disabling specific trackers on a web page. It's also meant to encourage users to see Ghostery as an all-in-one product, rather than something to be used in conjunction with a filter-list ad blocker like Adblock Plus.
"Our competitive analysis and user research ... led us to the realisation that many of our users were using Ghostery alongside filter-list ad-blockers," product manager Jeremy Tillman told Business Insider by email. "With Ghostery 8, we took the opportunity to implement our own filter-list ad-blocker [developed by parent Cliqz] and provide users with an all-in-one solution."
The main changes are:
- Blocking some ads and intrusive trackers by default: Ghostery hasn't historically blocked anything by default, letting you pick and choose trackers to block. Now it'll block certain things by default, partly with a new "Smart Blocking" feature which automatically blocks or unblocks trackers to speed up page loading.
- Artificial intelligence: Ghostery has implemented artificially intelligent tech from its new owner Cliqz to identify whether a web page tracker is sending personally identifying information about you to advertisers. Ghostery will overwrite that information with random data, so an advertiser can't build a profile of you.
- Easier to use: Ghostery is popular with privacy nerds, but the updated version should make it easier for the average consumer who cares about their information staying private.
Ghostery says it has 7 million monthly active users — so it's still a small player compared to Adblock Plus, which passed 100 million active users last year.
Tillman also told Business Insider that Ghostery doesn't sell its user data to third parties, something which landed the firm in trouble under its previous parent Evidon. Ghostery still has a data-sharing agreement with Evidon, but that will wrap up next year.
Tillman said: "Ghostery does not sell anonymised data or information to third parties. As part of our acquisition agreement, we still license our anonymised tracker data set (previously known as GhostRank data) to our previous parent company, Evidon, to use in their enterprise product suite. However, we are currently in the process of terminating that data license, effective March 1, 2018."
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