The Purple Box - The Official Ghostery Blog Internet Privacy Browsing Tool Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:06:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New! Ghostery v5.4.2 Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:36:43 +0000 release-notes


** Ghostery v5.4.3 Update

We were seeing some issues with the Adobe Typekit Surrogate script.. so we fixed that. 5.4.2 update descriptions below are still in production.


Hello everyone in Ghostery land!

We have a brand new release hot off the press for you!

The biggest feature of this release is our re-design of the surrogate engine.

What is a surrogate?

Surrogate scripts are non-tracking scripts that we inject when Ghostery blocks content from loading, in order to make the content function appropriately. Previously, you may have been watching a video that couldn’t work without a certain element that tracks you. Your choice, while using Ghostery, was either to allow tracking and view the video or to not watch the video at all. We’ve upgraded our surrogate engine from BMW to Tesla.

Now if we could just figure out the Flux Capacitor we’d be on a whole new level…

We fixed the problem of Ghostery wiping out the settings in the options menu and a few other bugs. Here is the list of changes for 5.4.2.

New Features:

  • Add SeaMonkey support
  • Redesigned surrogate method to improve success rate

Bug Fixes:

  • Settings not persisting related issues
  • Old Panel in Firefox has wrong translation keys
  • Fixed blocking HookLogic on

Your current version should auto-update unless you have turned that off from your browser’s menu, but if not, you can get the new version HERE.

As always, we appreciate your feedback., so please, drop us a line or visit our forum. And remember… If you love Ghostery,  and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

~Happy browsing!

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New! Ghostery v1.1 for Android Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:00:45 +0000 release-notes

Hey! Ghostery users on Android… Today is YOUR day!

We are excited to release Ghostery 1.1 for the Android Ghostery Privacy Browser. We can’t thank you all enough for your great feedback! We couldn’t have done it without you. We have added a bunch of new features as well as fixed a few things.

Here’s the list..


  • Site-specifc unblocking
  • Find text in page
  • Enable/disable Javascript
  • Set Ghostery as your Default Browser
  • Added a “Close All Tabs” button
  • Add to Home Screen
    •  requires an additional permission “Install Shortcuts”
  • Added an “Exit App” option
  • Added an option to Clear History/Cookies on Exit.
  • Added Multi-language support (22 available languages)

Bug Fixes:

  • Clear history settings now remembered
  • Improved behavior when opening from other apps
  • Bookmarks no longer open in new tabs
  • Fixed some tab closing issues

You can read a review of the new browser from Android Authority, and download it from the Google Play and Amazon app stores. Give the app a try and give us your thoughts and questions here in the comments, at our support forum, on Facebook and Twitter, or email

And remember…If you love Ghostery , and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

Happy Browsing!


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Ghostery 5.4.2Beta for Firefox and SeaMonkey! Thu, 05 Feb 2015 22:57:16 +0000 release-notes


Howdy all you Firefox and SeaMonkey users!

We have a beta release that we’d love for you to test drive.  Here’s what we’ve worked on:

New Features:

  • We added SeaMonkey support
  • Added a new notification screen to alert users

Bug Fixes:

  • That pesky bug of Ghostery losing all the settings when you restart.. yeah.. we fixed that.
  • The old panel in Firefox had the wrong translation keys… so we fixed that too.

You can install the beta version for Firefox here.  Use this link to install to SeaMonkey.

As always, we appreciate your feedback., so please, drop us a line or visit our forum. And remember…If you love Ghostery , and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!

Happy Browsing!


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New! Ghostery 4.0 for Internet Explorer Mon, 26 Jan 2015 06:30:40 +0000 Getting-the-Band-Back-to-Together_3

We’re Back!

Ghostery for Internet Explorer is once again in production.

For those who know the extension, you will see all the familiar bells and whistles. We will be porting over a few features soon like the import/export file and the additional set of languages.

For those of you who have been waiting to see Ghostery in action on your desktop. This release of Ghostery for IE compliments a set of product offerings that now reach every major desktop browser, as well and Android and iOS mobile devices. Internet users from all walks of life now have access to a more transparent and private web, regardless of their choice of browser, device, or operating system. Ghostery for IE is available in 13 languages (German, English, British English, Spanish, French, Italian, Korean, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese).

Ghostery for IE delivers advanced privacy features such as;

  • Displays a list of trackers and the ability for individuals to block various digital tools and social widgets
  • Blocking new trackers by default
  • Whitelist regularly used sites for faster performance

This version of Ghostery is compatible with:

  • Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10 & 11 (32 &64bit)
  • Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8

Download Ghostery for IE.

As always, we appreciate your feedback., so please, drop us a line or visit our forum. And remember…If you love Ghostery , and want to help us out, please join our panel by opting-in to Ghostrank!


Happy Browsing.


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The Business of Data Wed, 21 Jan 2015 15:22:09 +0000 Business-of-Data-Header
An anonymous, unnamed CEO for a popular transparency company whose mascot is a ghost is fond of saying “running a business these days would be easy – if it weren’t for all the people and computers.” It’s a joke meant to add perspective to everyday problems – but it can also apply to just trying to comfortably exist in the “Information Age.”

Every time a celebrity’s cloud is hacked, or a government surveillance whistle is blown, or a bank’s records or compromised – everyday users can’t help but feel like our data-driven world has grown even more out of control.

It’s easy to create a narrative that captures the struggle in an “us vs them” story. Evil corporations, squeezing the data out of us until we’re dried husks with no secrets. And it’s not as if there’s no evidence to suggest that this makes sense. But a narrative like that ignores a lot of nuance in the argument.

There’s the (frankly terrible) argument that people prefer targeted ads, but that line always comes across pretty hollow and self-serving, even if it’s supported by clicks. But we do like special offers. We like content and services and software that’s free besides the data it collects. We like our online presence to have some kind of identity, even if it’s just to make friends and share pictures of our breakfast. So we don’t hate all data collection – but that’s not even the most interesting part of the gray area created by our data-driven world.

Here’s a rarely understood secret: In a lot of cases, the companies you interact have the same problem. Many websites don’t feel any more in control of the data than the users who are providing it. They know it’s important to be able to identify loyal customers and to create a good brand experience, but when it comes to actually managing the data they collect and the partners they use to collect it, lots of websites are just as confused and frustrated as their users.

They also have a litany of frustrations – how do you balance providing otherwise free content with keeping up with innovations in digital advertising and being respectful of user privacy? Website publishers are the most long-suffering player in the digital ad game, a trend that unfortunately continues.

So that’s the bad news: everyone has the same problem. But there’s good news, too – solutions aren’t very far out on the horizon.

The first step, as always, is transparency. Users have to be informed about how the online ad world works, and website owners have to come to terms with exactly what’s happening on their own pages. We created a diagram – The Business of Data – to show how complex the process can become from a user’s point of view. For site owners, we’ve also created a new Ghostscore – a ranked list of the web’s top sites that shows how carefully they manage the user privacy, site performance, and information security of their data collection partners.

Next, we can work on toning down the rhetoric. I know it’s a tall order – news outlets have their panic buttons permanently pressed these days – but we can use clicks and shares (or rather, the lack of them) to avoid likes and shares of alarmist news coverage in favor of reasoned discussions about meaningful innovations or regulations. This is most obvious when a news website runs a story that makes tracking seem really scary – but engages in a bunch of  data collection itself. Check out our “Tracking Irony” screenshot gallery to see this in action.

Finally, both users and site publishers have to take actions in support of their desire to get data back under control. We put together some examples of websites we think are doing things right – and suggestions for actions users can take to show support for good data management. See Our Data-Driven Web Survival Guide to learn more.

The business of data is dense and thorny – but it’s a landscape that can be cleared to a place where everyone – consumers and website owners – can happily live.

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The Business of Data (Infographic) Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:42:48 +0000 Business-of-Data

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Tracking Irony (Gallery) Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:42:21 +0000 Tracking-Irony
While exploring the “Business of Data”, we’ve realized that web users and websites both have the same problem – online data collection is out of control. There are ways we can fix it, but first we have to begin discussing the problem like it can be solved.

News outlets need to lead this charge. Alarmist coverage is a strong trend in modern, 24-hour journalism – but if we’ll ever work toward actually changing the data collection landscape, we have to take a more reasoned approach.

It’s especially obvious how unproductive this “voice of doom” approach can be when the sites covering the evils of tracking are also tracking. Sound crazy? Here are just a few examples pulled together in gallery of ironic data collection.

221949_10150183220406962_353819_n 222049_10150183220566962_1667163_n 222089_10150183220476962_2075232_n 222279_10150183220521962_30612_n 227494_10150183220386962_6056890_n 229504_10150183220436962_7500398_n 230009_10150183220366962_6902882_n 230149_10150183220496962_7940041_n 319559_10150327968261962_1052606584_n 430221_10150544632031962_2064461864_n 936205_10151402616726962_387596871_n 945087_10151437652596962_1294788577_n 1005449_10151529159441962_750100731_n 1044186_10151465877821962_1006659366_n

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Data-Driven Web Survival Guide Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:42:03 +0000 Survival-Guide_2

If we’re going to make it through what’s sometimes described as a data-collection apocalypse, owner of websites and apps will have to work together with their users. We’ve put together a short guide of things service and content providers are doing to make data collection easier to swallow. The more companies that adopt practices like these – and the more users take advantage of these practices – the more likely we all are to survive (and hopefully improve) the data-driven web.

1. Reddit Gold

Screenshot 2015-01-15 22.04.01Reddit’s not the only site that provides a subscription service, but we like how transparent they are about its adoption. The combination social network, news, and entertainment site runs a wide gamut of content – but even as a part of the much larger Condé Nast Publications group, they’re able to maintain a dual business model that offers an ad-free option for interested users. Even more interesting is the dynamic among the site’s users – where gifting Reddit gold is a common practice to award interesting, informative, or especially interesting user-generated content.

As a web user, it’s important to take advantage of these subscription services at every reasonable opportunity. Ultimately, data collection is about the revenue it provides, and if we demonstrate that it’s worthwhile to provide other options, even the websites most driven by the bottom line will take notice.


2. Zynga’s Privacyville

Screenshot 2015-01-15 22.10.09

Zynga may be diabolical in its ability to getting us addicted to farming, running an organized crime syndicate, or stacking our word skills up against our friends – but they’re also really responsible in the way they offer up their privacy policies. Adding a gaming element to their disclosures shows that the company is serious about making sure users understand their options. More websites should apply their core talents to helping users manage the data that is collected about them. Users, of course, should reward this dedication by participating. It’s no fair to complain about indecipherable privacy policies if we don’t show strong adoption of innovative ways to share these policies.

3. Amazon’s Tag Ratio Dominance

File of a box from is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, ColoradoAmazon is very clever, and not just at finding ways to offer good deals to consumers. The internet retail giant partnered with 298 distinct data collection companies in December, but on average, users only encountered 5 data collection tools per page. This means Amazon has introduced logic to carefully select the partners that get access to its user data, which means less information flying around. This is good for users and good for Amazon, who recognize that their users interests are only valuable if everyone doesn’t already know what they are. (You can see more about how Amazon stacks up among its peers in Ghostery’s new Ghostscore index.)

4. Blackphone’s Default Privacy Settings for Applications

BLACKPHONEWhen an app is installed on a mobile device, it asks for permissions to access loads of stuff from that device. It might ask for your locations, your contacts, access to your camera, or even permission to make calls or send text messages. Some of these things are required for the app to function (Instagram, for example, relies on the use of your camera) – but in many cases, these permissions are designed to collect (and eventually sell) data about the app user. Blackphone, the privacy-by-design smartphone, introduced granular control over these permissions in its operating system, and disallows many by default. But CEO Toby Weir-Jones advises for users of every device to audit these permissions.

“Just like we’ve learned to check ingredients before we eat, checking app permissions is a good habit which improves your overall safety without costing you anything significant,” Weir-Jones says in “Secure Starting Point: Reviewing All Permissions” on the Blackphone blog. Bringing the extra permissions apps require to the forefront is a great first step in educating average users on how frequently their data is collected.


5. The New Breed of Privacy Products

silentpocketA lot has been made of “the Snowden Effect”, which is the new awareness among everyday users about how frequently their data is shared. But perhaps the most telling example of its implications is the new industry around products that help secure privacy. It’s not just the aforementioned Blackphone – personal privacy is gaining such momentum that products dedicated to information protection even had their own (albeit small) section at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year. Products  range from sleeves that block the radio transmissions of your devices (like “The Suit” from Silent Pocket, pictured) to apps that can help you encrypt your photos and communications, with many in between. Privacy has long been seen as an adversary of the bottom-line, but this new wave of products is showing that you can collect plenty of revenue while helping people avoid data collection.

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Ghostery for IE Beta Test Mon, 12 Jan 2015 20:44:55 +0000 ie-release

Exciting news – we’re preparing to release a brand new and much improved version of Ghostery for IE!

What’s that? You’d like to be a beta tester? Feedback from early adopters is invaluable to what we do, so we’re excited to get you on board.

  1. Download the Beta version here.
  2. Break it and let us know! We’d like to organize the feedback in our support forum, so that’s the best place to post.
  3. Smile a warm smile, knowing you helped make Ghostery for IE better, stronger, and faster.

Thanks! We can’t wait to hear from you.

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Introducing the Ghostery Privacy Browser for Android Devices Wed, 03 Dec 2014 16:10:45 +0000 Ghostery_Feature-Graphic_2
Android users, we have some great news for you. Not only did you avoid a forced download of the latest U2 album – but now you can browse the web from your device without sharing your data!

We’re very excited to announce the first release of our Ghostery Privacy Browser v1.0 for Android devices. It’s a full-featured, standalone web browser with functionality from our  desktop tool built in. It’s easy to configure and simple to use, allowing you to browse the mobile web with quick load times and exceptional privacy.

A huge thank you goes out to all of our beta testers, who were extraordinarily helpful at identifying issues and helping us iron out wrinkles. Our user community is the best and brightest, and we really can’t say enough about how vital you all are to Ghostery’s success.

You can read a review of the new browser from Android Authority, and download it from the Google Play and Amazon app stores. Give the app a try and give us your thoughts and questions here in the comments, at our support forum, on Facebook and Twitter, or email

(Firefox for Android users, don’t worry. We still support our mobile Firefox add-on as well.)

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