Ad Blocker Ghostery Is Going Open Source to Win Back Some Privacy Points

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The ad blocker Ghostery is shaking up its business model and open-sourcing its code in a bid to earn more consumer trust. The company faced criticism last year over its business model, which involved selling anonymized user data to businesses—not the kind of behavior you’d expect from a privacy tool.

Now, Ghostery is ditching that model in favor of two new revenue streams: Ghostery Insights and Ghostery Rewards. Insights will be a paid analytics service that gives researchers access to data about ads and trackers that Ghostery picks up as it blocks them, Wired reports. Rewards is a consumer-focused affiliate marketing program. If users opt in, they’ll be offered occasional deals on products they might be interested in—a sort of tailored-down version of the ads they’d be seeing constantly if they weren’t using Ghostery.


Opening its code for review puts Ghostery on par with other ad blockers and allows security researchers to scrub through the code for vulnerabilities. It’s a way for Ghostery to earn trust from the privacy-conscious kinds of users it wants to attract and to secure its product.

It’s possible that ad developers will also poke through the code, looking for ways to evade Ghostery’s blocking, but the company isn’t too worried about it.


“At this point, it’s pretty well known how Ghostery and other tracker blockers work, even before going open-source,” Jeremy Tillman, Ghostery’s director of product management, told Wired. “There will always be a cat-and-mouse game with advertisers that are trying to find new ways to evade our technology but, if anything, going open-source should empower our community of contributors to help keep Ghostery ahead of the curve.”