Ghostery starts to show advertisements in the browser

Posted 10 July 2018 23:48 CET by Jan Willem Aldershoff

Anti-tracking browser extension Ghostery has started to show advertisements in the browser. Ghostery calls the advertisements ‘Ghostery Rewards’ and promises that the privacy of users is maintained. The advertisements are provided by its sister company MyOffrz.

Ghostery is intended to provide users protection against trackers on websites. The extension is available for all major browsers including, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Opera and Safari. According to Ghostery their extension, “anonymizes your data to further protect your privacy.”

With update 8.2 of the extension, the new Ghostery Rewards feature has been introduced that offers users promotional offers from partners. Since February 2017, Ghostery is a subsidiary of the German company Cliqz, which also owns MyOffrz, the company that provides the promotional offers for Ghostery.

MyOfferz writes on its website that it offers ‘hyper granular targeting’. On its website the company also states,  “the browser knows what users want! Choose from a wealth of targeting options: search queries, viewed content or social signals and define tailor-made targeting rules which trigger your offers and information.”

The integration in Ghostery means that if users visit a website or search for a specific term for which MyOffrz has an offer, it will notify the user that a “Reward”, which in reality is a promotional offer, is available. When users click on it, they are given a discount code. This could be a code for the website the user is surfing, but it could also be a discount code from a competitor.

Ghostery explains in a FAQ that the promotional offers are stored locally and come pre-loaded together with the extension. When the user surfs the web, promotional offers are triggered based on e.g the visited website or a search query. The Rewards are also only shown if the user shows an active interest in a purchase, which is likely when the user adds a product to his shopping basket or during checkout.

According to Ghostery, no personal information is sent to Ghostery, Cliqz, MyOffrz or any other third parties.

“Because your data never leaves your device, it remains in your possession and under your control — we do not collect, process, or store it centrally on a server. We cannot profile you or share your data with anyone else.  In this way, Rewards is fully private-by-design, making it a powerful new way to gain real value by completely anonymous means,” the company writes in its FAQ.

Users can also disable the Rewards feature with a single click. Ghostery is currently testing the reward program in Germany and plans to expand it to the United States later, depending on user response.

Ghostery is open source and developers who disagree with the path Ghostery is taking with the Rewards, can fork the source code and make a Ghostery version available with the Rewards feature removed.

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