A bleak outlook. But Ghostery has taken a different route. Rather than rolling out its own search engine or browser, it will instead layer its privacy technology atop Firefox and the Bing Web Search API. The beta should launch by mid-January at the latest; those interested in testing it out can sign up here. The ultimate goal isn’t to overthrow Google. It’s to reimagine what the internet demands of its users.
“Nobody delivers ad-free private search today,” says Tillman. “As a first step we thought that was pretty unique. If you’re like, I want privacy and also I just hate ads, Ghostery search is the only option out there for you.”
Nothing’s free in this life, and Ghostery is no different. Whereas Google’s ad business subsidizes its free services like search and Chrome, Ghostery’s ad-free search requires a Ghostery Plus subscription, which costs $5 per month. The company is working on an ad-supported version that anyone can use for free, a model that would resemble the already popular privacy search engine DuckDuckGo, which places ads contextually rather than based on user behavior. (The business models run the gamut; the privacy-focused browser Brave blocks ads, but it has experimented with paying users who opt to view them.)