The Ghostery in the machine: Tracking the trackers

Ghostery says it's better to know who's tracking you across the Web than to simply block everyone. What do you think?

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Readers should keep in mind that Evidon, which purchased Ghostery in January 2010 when the company was still called The Better Advertising Project, has a vested interest in industry self-regulation of online tracking. Evidon 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.

Thus a blunt instrument like Abine's DNT+ that simply blocks tracking outright doesn’t serve Evidon’s interests. And if Web tracking got legislated out of existence (highly unlikely in my opinion), Evidon would go down with it.

When Kahl talks about Ghostery improving Web latency, he means that Web sites use GhostRank stats to identify elements that slow down page loads, then fix them. It doesn’t mean that using Ghostery on your computer will make pages load more quickly.

Re the FTC: While I’m sure everyone at the federal level can get behind more transparency and education about tracking, it doesn’t mean the FTC uniformly favors industry self regulation over other forms of government oversight. Some commissioners do, some don’t.

And while tools like DNT+ can mess up some Web pages, it’s easy enough to turn it off for a particular site. Easier, in fact, than turning on the blocking features of Ghostery.

Finally, I love the line about having “complete control” of my Web experience. Wouldn’t that be nice? Ain’t hardly true, though, in any number of ways.

Stay tuned for part four of this series later this week.

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