Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 17, 2010
Okay, stay with me for a minute. I was going through Kristi’s weekly Fetching Friday listing, where this week one of my posts was mentioned (thanks Kristi), and came upon an article she was highlighting called 10 Firefox Addons For Affiliate Marketers from the blog Ace Affiliates.
Always someone who’s looking for the next big thing, I went to read that article, and one of the Firefox addons it recommended was something called Ghostery. It seems to do two things for you. One, it lets you know how safe a website is that you’re visiting. Two, it allows you to block sites from tracking your IP address and the like.
That second one is very intriguing to me. I was talking to my friend Kelvin about it and saying how freaked out I was when I go to websites, such as MSNBC, and see all the ads that are targeted for me knowing that I live in the Syracuse, NY area. He said he didn’t know of anything that could block that, so I thought this might be the plugin for me.
When I went to the page where the addon is, it looked different than what I’m used to seeing. There’s no description of what the addon is about, and there’s this big block in the middle with only one line: Ghostery requires that you accept the following End-User License Agreement before installation can proceed. And in the box there’s only one thing: http://www.ghostery.com/terms. Now, maybe it looks that way because I’m running Adblock, but it looked strange.
This tasked me (a line from Star Trek II; Wrath of Khan), so I decided I wanted to read the terms of service for using this particular addon. Overall, it was the same standard stuff you see everywhere else, but suddenly I came upon a line I didn’t like, under privacy: You acknowledge that the Software will contact GHOSTERY and send limited information about the websites you visit to GHOSTERY’s databases.
Come on now; y’all know me! I’m the guy who has a problem with Google Toolbar tracking our movements, to the point that I won’t use it anymore once I learned it did that. I’m certainly not letting some other group of folks track where I go; wasn’t the point of using their software so you could go to websites without them knowing where you were coming from, as in “tracking” you? I’m going to give up my privacy to these guys who I don’t know to get privacy from sites that I at least have some idea of who they are?
Many times I don’t read terms of service, just like most people don’t when we want to use something. However, the way this was segregated looked, well, suspicious. They might have specific reasons for wanting to track people, as in making sure the software works. And, of course we all have the right to use or not use something.
I’m choosing not to use it; that doesn’t sound surprising, does it? So, I’m still on a quest to find something that will aid me in my privacy efforts. Sure, I know that there’s no real privacy online, but I’d still like to find a way to decide when I want to give up information about myself and when I don’t.