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Ghostery is a privacy and security-related browser extension and mobile browser application. Since February 2017, it is owned by the German company Cliqz GmbH (formerly owned by Evidon, Inc., which was previously called Ghostery, Inc.).[10] [11] It is distributed as proprietary freeware. The code was originally developed by David Cancel and associates.

Developer(s) David Cancel,
Christopher Tino,
José María Signanini,
Serge Zarembsky,
Patrick Lawler,
Caleb Richelson
Stable release
Browser extension

Opera - / April 27, 2017; 10 months ago (2017-04-27)[1]

Firefox - / April 24, 2017; 10 months ago (2017-04-24)[2]

Google Chrome - / 26 April 2017; 10 months ago (2017-04-26)[3]

Safari - 5.4.11[4]

Microsoft Edge -[5]

Internet Explorer - 5.4.11[6]


iOS - 1.5.6[4][7]

Android - 1.3.3 / May 4, 2016; 22 months ago (2016-05-04)[8]

Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Development status Active
Type Internet Explorer add-on/extension,
Microsoft Edge add-on,
Opera extension,
Firefox extension,
Google Chrome extension,
Safari extension,
iOS app (browser),
Android app (browser),
Firefox for Android add-on
License MPL[9]

Ghostery enables its users to easily detect and control JavaScript "tags" and "trackers". JavaScript bugs and beacons are embedded in many web pages, largely invisible to the user, allowing collection of the user's browsing habits via HTTP cookies, as well as participating in more sophisticated forms of tracking such as canvas fingerprinting.

As of 2017, Ghostery is available for Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Opera (web browser), Safari, iOS, Android, and Firefox for Android.

Additionally, Ghostery's privacy team creates profiles of page elements and companies for educational purposes.[12] [13]




Ghostery blocks HTTP requests and redirects according to their source address in several ways: 1) Blocking third-party tracking scripts that are used by websites to collect data on user behavior for advertising, marketing, site optimization, and security purposes. These scripts, also known as "tags" or "trackers", are the underlying technology that places tracking cookies on consumers browsers; 2) Continuously curating a "script library" that identifies when new tracking scripts are encountered on the Internet and automatically blocking them[13] and 3) Creating "Whitelists" of websites where third-party script blocking is disabled and other advanced functionality for users to configure and personalize their experience. When a tracker is blocked, any cookie that the tracker has placed is not accessible to anyone but the user and thus cannot be read when called upon. [14] [15]


Ghostery reports all tracking packages detected, and whether Ghostery has blocked them or not, in a "findings window" accessible from clicking on the Ghostery Icon in the browser. When configured, Ghostery also displays the list of trackers present on the page in a temporary purple overlay box.[16]

History and useEdit

Originally developed by David Cancel, Ghostery was acquired by Evidon (renamed Ghostery, Inc.) in January 2010. Ghostery is among the most popular browser extensions for privacy protection. In 2014, Edward Snowden suggested consumers use Ghostery along with other tools to protect their online privacy.[17]

In February 2017, Ghostery was acquired by Cliqz GmbH, a German company owned by Hubert Burda Media and Mozilla that builds browser technologies which emphasize privacy.[10][11] Following Ghostery, Inc.'s loss of ownership, the company changed its name to Evidon, Inc.

On March 8, 2018 the addon became open source[18].


Some say that Ghostery, Inc. plays a dual role in the online advertising industry.[weasel words] Ghostery blocks sites from gathering personal information. But it does have an opt-in feature GhostRank that can be checked to "support" them. GhostRank takes note of ads encountered and blocked, and sends that information back to advertisers so they can better formulate their ads to avoid being blocked.[19] Though Ghostery claims that the data are anonymized, patterns of web page visits cannot truly be anonymized.[20] Thus not everyone sees Evidon's business model as conflict-free. "Evidon has a financial incentive to encourage the program's adoption and discourage alternatives like Do Not Track and cookie blocking as well as to maintain positive relationships with intrusive advertising companies", says Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford grad student and privacy advocate.[21]

Business modelEdit

The company that owned Ghostery, Ghostery, Inc. (previously Evidon), plays a dual role in the online advertising industry. Ghostery blocks marketing companies from gathering website user information, but it makes money from selling page visit, blocking, and advertising statistics to corporations globally, including corporations that are actively engaged in collecting user information to target ads and other marketing messages to consumers.

Customers include advertising industry groups like Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Direct Marketing Association, parts of the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA).[22] These agencies then use those reports to monitor how online behavioral advertisers operate and, when needed, refer them to the Federal Trade Commission.[23] Ghostery also offers data to university students, researchers, and journalists to support their work.

According to some journalists, Ghostery is not transparent in how it collects data from users or what that data is used for. Other journalists have claimed that Ghostery sells user data to advertisers to better target their ads.[24] Ghostery, Inc. denies this, asserting that Ghostery does not collect any information that could be used to identify users or target ads specifically at individual users. To support their assertion, the company made the source code open for review in 2010, but after 2010 further source have not been released.[25]

On February 22, 2016, Ghostery, Inc. released a new EULA for Ghostery browser extension, as proprietary closed-source product.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Ghostery extension - Opera add-ons". Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  2. ^ "Ghostery :: Add-ons for Firefox". Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  3. ^ "Ghostery - Chrome Web Store". Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Download the Ghostery Browser Extension and Mobile Apps". Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "Buy Ghostery - Microsoft Store". Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Download the Ghostery Browser Extension and Mobile Apps". 
  7. ^ "Ghostery Privacy Browser on the App Store". Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  8. ^ "Ghostery Privacy Browser – Android Apps on Google Play". Retrieved 10 May 2017. 
  9. ^ "Browser Extension End-User License Agreement". Ghostery. Cliqz International GmbH. Archived from the original on 2017-11-15. Retrieved 2017-11-15. 
  10. ^ a b "CLIQZ and Ghostery join forces to defend your privacy". CLIQZ. 2017-02-15. Retrieved 2017-02-15. 
  11. ^ a b Ghostery Team. "Ghostery is Acquired by Cliqz!". 
  12. ^ "Ghostery (Dead link)". Retrieved December 11, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Attacking Tracking: They're Watching You (TV Production). Fox News. March 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Third-Party Cookies vs First-Party Cookies". Opentracker. Opentracker. Retrieved December 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Prevent 3rd party script from setting cookies (specifically Google adsense)". Stack Overflow. July 29, 2015. Retrieved December 11, 2015. 
  16. ^ "How does Ghostery work? (Dead link)". Ghostery, Inc. Retrieved December 12, 2015. 
  17. ^ Storm, Darlene (March 10, 2014). "Snowden at SXSW: We need better encryption to save us from the surveillance state". computerworld. Retrieved December 21, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Ghostery tool for web privacy goes open source". cnet. March 8, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018. 
  19. ^ Henry, Alan. "Ad-Blocker Ghostery Actually Helps Advertisers, If You "Support" It". Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  20. ^ Hill, Kashmir. "How Your Browsing History Is Like A Fingerprint". Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  21. ^ Review, MIT Technology. "Popular Ad Blocker Also Helps the Ad Industry". Mashable. Retrieved 1 August 2017. 
  22. ^ "Council to Enforce Online Tracking Principles". WSJ blogs. March 4, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Council Steps Up Enforcement of Interest-Based Advertising". Better Business Bureau. March 7, 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  24. ^ Henry, Alan (June 17, 2013). "Ad-Blocker Ghostery Actually Helps Advertisers, If You "Support" It". LifeHacker. Retrieved December 12, 2015. 
  25. ^ Pierce, Jon. "Github - Ghostery Source Code". Github. Ghostery, Inc. Retrieved December 12, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Ghostery proprietary EULA". Ghostery, Inc. February 15, 2017. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 

External linksEdit