If you’re concerned about your privacy, it was reported last year that U.S. government tracking software had been installed in hundreds of mobile apps.
Of course, businesses have always been very interested in customers’ personal habits too.
A 2018 article provides more details about how software apps collect user data often without their knowledge or consent.
My lounge room is bugged. My phone is broadcasting an ultrasonic signal to my blu-ray player via an acoustic side channel beyond human hearing.
The channel networks the two devices, similar to how a dial-up connection used to get our computers online before the days of the NBN. The same technology is behind Google’s Nearby API through their Eddystone protocol, and is the basis of products sold by the startup Lisnr. It’s also the reason more and more apps are requesting access permissions to your microphone.
Aside from networking, companies use ultrasonic signals (or beacons) to gather information about users. That could include monitoring television viewing and web browsing habits, tracking users across multiple devices, or determining a shopper’s precise location within a store.
They use this information to send alerts that are relevant to your surroundings – such as a welcome message when you enter a museum or letting you know about a sale when you pass by a particular store.
But since this technology records sound – even if temporarily – it could constitute a breach of privacy. An analysis of various Australian regulations covering listening devices and surveillance reveals a legal grey area in relation to ultrasonic beacons.