Cellphone Tracking Just Got Even Scarier
New software can identify all of your devices—even if they're not connected
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2013 2:22 PM CDT
A smartphone display shows the Twitter logo in Berlin, Germany.   (AP Photo/dpa, Soeren Stache, File)

(Newser) – It isn't just the NSA we have to worry about snooping on our cellphones now: several new start-ups are sneaking software into apps that builds individualized profiles of users' spending, browsing, and travel habits, then sells the info to advertisers. The new tech is way more advanced than old-fashioned browser cookies, reports the New York Times—it can identify the desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and other devices you own, even if they're in no way connected to your phone. "We’re observing your behaviors and connecting your profile to mobile devices," says the COO of Drawbridge, which tracks 1.5 billion devices.

Drawbridge, one of several similar new companies, watches what you do on your phone, then uses behavioral patterns and statistical modeling to determine all the other devices you use. It then assigns you an anonymous identifier so advertisers can market to you on all of your screens. The Times uses the example of searching for a Hawaiian vacation on your work computer, then receiving an ad for airline tickets to Hawaii later on your smartphone. The company says its software is so accurate, it can even identify—and market to—different users on a shared tablet. "In the old days of ad targeting, we give them a list of sites and we'd say, 'Women 25 to 45,'" says one online retailer. "In the new age, we basically say, 'Go get us users.'"

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Showing 3 of 32 comments
hopalong40
Oct 7, 2013 6:35 PM CDT
I abject, strongly to ads on T.V. I have been timing ads for a while. the longest string of ads is 5 minutes the shortest 3 minutes. These are just one string in a hour show. There is more Ads then Show. I'am just about ready to throw my T.V. out the window. T.V. had great promise in 1949, when we got our first set. Greed has taken over, and ruined a great invention. In 1950 the schools sent letters home to our parents, to not let the children watch T.V. T.V. was bad. To bad the parents didn't take their advice.
Oh_really
Oct 7, 2013 12:28 PM CDT
I much prefer NSA targeting and tracking me than advertisers. At least eh NSA is not the root of evil. I want a list of the apps that have this crap in it so I can purge my phone of them. I have no desire to be marketed to or targeted. If I am interested in something, I will find it. Pushed advertising pisses me off to no end and I do not like the idea of my habits or anything else being tracked. It is not a matter of hiding something so much as I like my privacy. These companies need to be brought to heel and stopped from this sort of shit. I have no desire to live in Minority Report advertising world.
CaptRhan
Oct 7, 2013 8:32 AM CDT
Amen give them a virusss... and call it "Taheee"