Dig out that tinfoil hat!


It used to be that only people with tinfoil hats thought their television sets were tracking them. Now it turns out, they may be right.

Let's say you are on your computer and you listen to an ad for a movie. Or you are watching a commercial on television for the newest film release. Unknown to you, the audio portion of that ad may also be sending an ultrasonic, inaudible tone to your nearby cell phone, computer, laptop or tablet. That tone will then link all of those devices, enabling the advertiser to physically track you to places you visit and purchases you make.

Suppose, for example, your tablet is nearby. That audio commercial can send an inaudible tone to the tablet indicating you listened to the ad. Now you go run some errands and use your tablet to log onto the theater web site. The tablet could send a tracking signal to the cell phone on your belt or in your purse.

Your cell phone now has information about the ad you heard and your web search. When you go the theater, the GPS will have your location, and the payment app will record the name and time of the movie ticket you bought. And the cookies on all of these devices will send all of this information back to the advertiser, where it will be available to who knows how many other people or organizations.

None of this is science fiction. Several companies are already using this software, and of course don't give you any warning about what they are doing. A company called SilverPush is currently monitoring some 18-million cell phones, using software users didn't know had been secretly installed.

Once again, there appears there is nothing you can do to stop this invasion of your privacy. And given a choice, who do you think the regulators are going to listen to: you, or a multi-million dollar company? Here's a hint, it won't be you.