What good can come to individuals who are tracked and stalked relentlessly by the likes of Google, Amazon, and online advertisers? I understand how those companies benefit from culling information from users, but what benefit do the users obtain from such tracking and stalking?
The latest to make me wary of even being on the internet is a plethora of Android apps that can track users by listening to inaudible sounds hidden in advertisements. This mostly occurs with Android smartphones which have fewer controls on privacy and security, but it’s just another sneaky way to track customers without their knowledge.
Over recent years, companies have started hiding “beacons”, ultrasonic audio signals inaudible to humans, in their adverts, in order to track devices and learn more about their owners.
Electronic devices equipped with microphones can register these sounds, allowing advertisers to uncover their location and work out what kind of ads their owners watch on TV and which other devices they own.
Even if you use ad blockers while browsing the web, even if you use the popular Tor network for anonymous browsing, you can still be tracked.
Sulleyman describes research on the tracking mechanism and found that millions of app downloads have occurred on Android, and major companies– McDonald’s for one– are involved. What happens is a bit scary. Ultrasonic audio is pumped out at 18 to 20kHz– just above the ability for humans to hear– but picked up by applications that use the smartphone’s built-in microphone.
Ipso facto and alakazam. Users are tracked to the point of stalking and they don’t even know it.
Apple’s walled garden and App Store prohibit such track on iPhone and iPad, but Android users have no idea how much personal information is being culled by advertisers. One of the biggest culprits is Amazon. Search for a few products on Amazon and over the next week or two– as you browse around the interwebs– you’ll be hounded by advertisements recommending those same or similar products. Amazon knows your internet IP address so you get followed even if you turn ad blockers on.
Thank you, Apple, for being more courteous about my personal privacy and security. Shame on you Google and Amazon for creating a business model that benefits your company by taking information from users, by stalking those same users online in exchange for free apps and discount prices.
There is a price to be paid for using Amazon. Sure, free Prime delivery and low prices are attractive, but at what cost beyond the price? Sure, Gmail and Google’s search engine are great tools, but at what cost?
I did some tests using an app on my iPhone and I can hear almost to 16kHz. The offensive tracking occurs at a range higher than that, though some, particularly younger people, may be able to hear the noise but not understand the ramifications.
All those selfies people take with their smartphone cameras could easily be used to create additions to a database– facial recognition additions of who you hang out with. How is that a good thing for users?