Ghostery says carriers and ISPs approached the company about deploying network-level ad blocking

Earlier this month, hidden within a company blog post about the FCC’s proposed new privacy rules for broadband providers, anti-ad tracker service Ghostery revealed it is “in discussions with leading ISPs (internet service providers) and mobile carriers” to make its service available at a network level.

Right now, Ghostery claims millions of people use its browser extension tool to find out about the companies that are tracking them online and block certain companies from collecting their data.

But Ghostery imagines a world where consumers could set which sites and apps can collect their data and then sync those preferences across their devices via their ISP at a network level.

Speaking to Business Insider, Ghostery CEO Scott Meyer said: “These companies have reached out to us. They are focused on delivering the highest quality user experience.”

Meyer was keen to stress that Ghostery’s solution is a different model to that of Israel-based tech company Shine, which is working with carriers including Three in the UK and Italy and Digicel in the Caribbean to install technology in their data centres in order for ads to be blocked at a network level.

He said: “It’s important to remember that Ghostery doesn’t block anything by default. That’s distinct from ad blockers that turn off everything and don’t give the user much transparency into what their service actually does or how they make money.”

Typically, only around 20% of Ghostery’s users choose to block everything in its library of more than 4,500 scripts, according to Meyer. Blocking everything runs the risk of breaking the web experience, often preventing scripts from loading. Many publishers — such as Forbes, GQ, and The New York Times — have also now taken to blocking users with ad blockers switched on from viewing their content.

Meyer said it is too early to say how Ghostery will be compensated by carriers and ISPs for its services. Details about how carriers and ISPs will market the service to their consumers — or whether it will be an opt-in or opt-out function — are also still being ironed out.

But Meyer said there are clear advantages for carriers and ISPs taking up Ghostery’s technology: “For the carrier, it reduces bandwidth and network capital expenditure costs. When the preferences are deployed at a network level, the cost to the network operator goes down.”

A study published by Enders Analysis in March suggested that, on average, advertising accounts for around half of all the data used by publisher pages loaded over data networks.

Shine claimed last year that, depending on geography, ads are using up between 10-50% of users’ data plans.

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