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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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  • 1984 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @09:58AM (#42190975) Homepage

    If you haven't already read George Orwell's 1984 [amazon.com] , you really should do so. The frequent comparisons between contemporary society and the novel aren't just based on a vague feeling of constant surveillance, which you might imagine if you don't have a knowledge of the book itself, but with things like this even Orwell's specific technology is coming true and even being outdone.

    In the novel, the protagonist Winston Smith's television watched him just as he was watching it. He had the advantage of an alcove in his home that wasn't within the view of the "telescreen", where he could sit and keep a secret diary. With this news story and the way microphone technology is evolving, I fear that even retiring to a secluded part of the room to write one's forbidden thoughts will have a Clippyesque mascot pop up on the screen to sell you pens and paper.

  • Re:Legal? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @10:04AM (#42191045)

    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?

    IANAL but I am a cynic, so here's what I think would happen:

    Assuming Verizon couldn't just pay some lobbyists to get themselves an exemption, they would simply not record the audio. They would have a list of keywords and they would listen for them in real time. If the system hears a keyword, it increments a counter associated with the keyword but that is all it does, the audio is immediate sent to /dev/null without any sort of permanent record. No actual recording, no legal violation.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments