Smartphone Applications Surveying Audio Via Your Phone's Microphone
A tech marketing company is working with smartphone applications to "retrieve information" from your mobile device's built-in microphone, and sell that information to advertisers.
The tech company "Alphonso" has, according to recent reports, partnered with a plethora of smartphone applications with access to your phone's built-in mic, and used audio gathered to sell your streaming/viewing habits to advertisers with the nominal intent of targeting "more appropriate" consumers. According to "Apptopia", a company tracking the software's distribution, there are currently 106 apps on "Google Play", and 24 in the "App Store" using Alphonso's information-gathering software. The company claims to only gather information "...only after a consumer has provided explicit consent, albeit this is only partially accurate. It is the applications downloaded to a given mobile device that are granted "explicit consent" by the user, no doubt given the assumption the built-in microphone is only being used at the behest of the user.
Alphonso has partnered with numerous companies, including financial institutions like Mastercard, Experian, and others the company website labels "Data Partners", and "Tune-In Attribution Partners" include Amazon, Buzzfeed, CBS, The Huffington Post, Hulu, Spotify, Vox, and many others. The software gathered from smartphones is paired with places users go, viewing habits, application and social media usage, purportedly for the sole purpose of targeted advertisement.
The New York Times covered the story, albeit they echoed a quote from Alphonso CEO Ashish Chordia claiming that the user is knowingly opting in for surveillance. If this were true however, The New York Times would not need to author a headline informing people of the fact, would they? Furthermore The Times claims that the software "cannot record human speech", while failing to disclose at any point during the article that the New York Times is one of the "partners" listed on Alphonso's website.