Is it still paranoia if everyone really is watching you? Most of us are likely aware at this point that unless we take some fairly extensive precautions, we’re always being watched in one way or another while browsing the Web. What you might not be aware of, however, is the shocking number of services that monitor us on nearly every website we visit.
This past weekend, PandoDaily ran a post about an interesting new browser plugin that sheds light on just how deep the rabbit hole goes. The plugin is called Ghostery, and it’s a free download that serves a single purpose: It shows you all of the code on a given webpage that tracks your browsing habits in one way or another, and it blocks as many of them as it can from collecting data.
As illustrated in the post, some websites have a truly startling number of services that track users when they visit various pages. Of course, different code serves different purposes — some scripts are used for analytics, for example, while others indeed track browsing for advertising purposes.
PandoDaily found that some websites have as many as 33 individual trackers installed, and BGR found one site with more than 40 trackers while testing Ghostery.
This browser plugin is a free download from the company’s website, which is linked below in our source section. An amusing bit of irony should be noted, however: Ghostery blocks websites from tracking you for free, but it makes money by tracking your browsing history along with other data, including the various trackers you encounter.
UPDATE: Ghostery has contacted BGR via email to clarify that data collected is kept anonymous and not tied to a user account, and data collection only occurs if the user opts in. More info can be found on the company’s blog.