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Verizon Patents Eavesdropping Using Your TV For Ad Targeting 181

MojoKid writes with news of the latest and greatest idea brought to you by a marketing department. From the article: "It's a patent that sounds like a plot description for a science-fiction movie or the result of Apple's Siri and Google's AdSense mating. With it, Verizon could program its set-top boxes to survey a room to determine relevant ads to display either on your television or mobile phone. Sound a bit scary? It kind of is. Verizon's new technology can work a variety of ways. For starters, it can listen in on conversations — whether it be with someone else in the room or on the phone — and pick out keywords that would aid it in its duties. In reality, it's simple stuff in this day and age, but that doesn't make it any less off-putting. Imagine arguing with your significant other and then seeing marriage counseling ads on the TV — or better, cuddling and then seeing ads for contraceptives."
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Verizon Patents Eavesdropping Using Your TV For Ad Targeting

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  • Legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @09:57AM (#42190965)

    How does this get around wire-tapping laws in the two party states (where both parties need to know there's recording going on)? If someone comes over and watches TV, do you have to tell them or does Verizon since Verizon is the party doing the recording?

  • Re:Legal? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:06AM (#42191077)
    Simple. Verizon (or whoever licenses their technology) will have made more than enough "campaign contributions" to keep the regulators from bothering them. You didn't really think your privacy mattered when stood up against corporate interests, did you? Wake up.
  • Bugging (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:21AM (#42191243) Homepage Journal

    I bet anything that police / courts will determine that a warrant is not necessary to intercept this eavesdropping since it was already there (or some other flimsy reasoning). Instant audio bug.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @11:25AM (#42191967)

    I think, decades from now, we'll look back on the very concept of "targeted advertising" with mockery, like "Duck and Cover" drills in the 50s. Not because it's evil or privacy-invading, but because it doesn't work. (At least, in my estimation).

    Seriously. You can *maybe* target your advertising to people working in a general profession, or in a geographical region, or maybe an age group. But every time I've seen ads targeting me because of something more specific, it's been a terrible failure.

    The ads on Angry Birds were, at one point, *convinced* I was a gay black man with HIV. They were bombarding me with ads for "gay thug dating" or "HIV testing", despite the fact that the only thing they actually got right was "male" (and it's easy to get that one right when it's 50/50 on a blind guess).

    Google keeps hitting me with sports ads. Football, I think, but I care so little about sports in general that I can't really tell. Which tells you how inclined I am to click those links. Or if I buy something, I start getting a lot of ads for competing products, *after* the fact.

    Steam targets poorly with their "recommended games" bit. Usually, it's either stuff already on my wishlist (so I've already decided to buy it next time it's on sale), stuff that's blindingly obvious (oh, you just added Call of Duty 7 to your cart? Might I suggest Call of Duty 6, Call of Duty 8 or Call of Duty 5?), or stuff that I don't like (Train Simulator 2012). And they've got nearly as much data on me as Google. I will give them credit for using some of that data properly - they use their knowledge of what games I own to not try to sell me games I already own, or to try to upsell me on DLC for games I have.

    Those are just three examples. But I could list hundreds more. I have yet to see an advertiser try to target me, and "hit" the target. They're amassing all this data on me, but they're no better at advertising to me than when they just classified me as "late teen/early twenties caucasian male working in some sort of computer field".

    We need to collectively get over our obsession with targeted this or personalized that. It might give impressive results when it works, but I'd bet money that the hit rate is under 1% for the most precise groupings.

    (While we're at it, I'll note that even if your targeting *was* perfect, it's useless if your actual ads are shit. And guess what? Most ads are shit)

  • by Sentrion ( 964745 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @11:47AM (#42192207)

    Yesterday in Slashdot we discussed that police departments are urging legislators to REQUIRE that mobile service providers keep a log of text messages for all users. While many would agree that using such information to prosecute true criminals of heinous crimes, the same logs could be abused just as easily by a tyrannical regime. Active monitoring devices in our own homes could have a chilling effect on dissent of any form. Congress inquiries with questions like "are you or have you ever been a member of the [fill in your political affiliation] Party?" McCarthyism unfolded on a public stage and revealed itself to the American people for what it was. Today we just have to mention the word "McCarthyism" and it has a similar connotation as invoking the words "Hitler" "facist" or "communist". But if a tyrannical regime could suppress dissent before it ever leaves the home from which the most fundamental discussions begin, then there would be litte hope of dissent ever forming a critical mass following that could effect change. The references to 1984 are quite appropriate.

    But even without the threat from a potential tyrant, imagine the damage that could be done if scammers or British newspapers hack into the system?

  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo ( 1000167 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:06PM (#42192423)
    Can I buy drugs from you? Seriously, you want to drag partisan rhetoric into this? Both parties are criminally complicit in the erosion of our civil liberties, and people like you are the reason why we cannot make any progress.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal