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Google patent application admits existence of spy technology that listens to your ambient noise to target ads

Saturday, March 31, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Google, spy technology, ambient noise

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(NaturalNews) Despite being labeled as conspiracy nuts, the prediction from a few voices in the wilderness that Google was planning to use the ambient background noise of a person's environment to direct targeted advertising to them through technology has come to pass.

According to Infowars.com, which warned readers about this very development some six years ago, the search engine and ad giant has filed a patent petition for "Advertising based on environmental conditions."

News of the patent application was also reported by Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, which, in its headline, rhetorically asked, "Is nothing off limits? Now Google plans to spy on background noise in your phone calls to bombard you with tailored adverts."

According to the patent application, "A web browser or search engine located at the user's site may obtain information on the environment (e.g., temperature, humidity, light, sound, air composition) from sensors.

"Advertisers may specify that the ads are shown to users whose environmental conditions meet certain criteria," it said.

Mining for your data

The implications of the technology are far-reaching and scary.

"For example," the patent application said, "advertisements for air conditioners can be sent to users located at regions having temperatures above a first threshold, while advertisements for winter overcoats can be sent to users located at regions having temperatures below a second threshold."

Such mining for PII - personally identifiable information - led a former Google executive, James Whittaker, to criticize his onetime employer. In a missive that ran more than 1,300 words, he accused the search giant of transforming itself into an ad giant, saying "the Google I was passionate about was a technology company - the Google I left was an advertising company."

As expected, Google officials were elusive and coy when asked about the patent by the Daily Mail.

"We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don't," one Google official, who was not named, said. "Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications."

No more privacy - seriously

The paper said some folks didn't seem to care much about the technology, but maybe it's because they really don't understand the privacy implications of it. This technology will enable a private search and advertising engine to spy on virtually everything you do - your private conversations, what you watch on television, how cold or warm you keep your house, what you listen to on the radio "and whatever else is happening in your immediate environment, in order to build a psychological profile of your entire life," Infowars.com said.

The current patent relates to smart phones, but think about it: You can turn on your lights, monitor your kids, raise or lower your home's temperature and any number of other things already using a smartphone app. The Google technology will simply glom onto these network-supported apps and appliances, just to be able to send you an advertisement based on what sort of ambient "noise" you're emitting.

How's that for a Fourth Amendment privacy violation? But, according to Infowars.com, it's been a long time in the making.

As early as 2006 the Web site was warning readers that "private industry and eventually government is planning to use microphones in the computers of an estimated 150 million-plus Internet active Americans to spy on their lifestyle choices and build psychological profiles which will be used for surveillance and minority report style invasive advertising and data mining."

Still think we're crazy?

It probably sounded a little kooky back then, but look at the track technology has taken since.

Besides expressing concern about two-way systems like the OnStar satellite-fed vehicle warning system, the site also warned about our friends at the world's largest search engine.

"[...] Google [has] gone a step further by announcing that they will use in-built microphones to listen in on user's background noise, be it television, music or radio - and then direct advertising at them based on their preferences."

That was 2006.

Scared yet? You should be. And while you're at it, maybe you should pick a different search engine to use. Remember this one?

Sources for this article include:

http://www.prisonplanet.com

http://www.dailymail.co.uk

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/september2006/060906spyon.htm

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