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Hundreds of Apps Listen to You Without You Knowing - SureID Blog
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SureID Blog / Industry News  / Hundreds of Apps Listen to You Without You Knowing
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Hundreds of Apps Listen to You Without You Knowing

It’s not surprising to hear that some companies are using shady marketing tools to reach out to potential buyers, but the depths of their most recent technique has hit an all-time low.

Wired recently reported on how companies are accessing your smartphone’s microphone to listen for marketing “beacons” that come from places like stores, commercials, and websites. In essence, some apps are always listening in on what you’re doing, watching, and visiting in order to better market towards you.

What “Beacons” are They Listening To?

Its appropriate marketing name is “ultrasonic cross-device tracking”. These ultrasonic beacons are planted at an inaudibly high frequency in advertisements that are on the web, tv, or even in a store. If your phone happens to be near one of these beacons, then your microphone will pick up the emission.

Why Does my Phone Allow Companies to do This?

Well, believe it or not, companies are doing this with your permission. Every time you download an app, there’s typically a message that’ll pop-up on the app’s home screen that requests your permission to use features like your camera or microphone.

If you happen to blindly accept “yes” to all of these conditions, then you probably have an app that’s using your microphone.

How to Avoid Apps From Using Your Microphone

The process is different for every smartphone, but essentially if you go into your settings, and visit your app permissions or privacy section, then you’ll be able to see which apps use your microphone, and you can choose which ones can continue using it.

Key Takeaways From the Story

  • 234 Android apps use ultrasonic listening technology.
  • McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme currently use the technology in the Philippines.
  • The technology even works when you’ve disconnected your phone from your data or wi-fi.

You can read the rest of Wired’s fascinating story, here.

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