That Game on Your Phone May Be Tracking What You’re Watching on TV

That Game on Your Phone May Be Tracking What You’re Watching on TV, by Sapna Maheshwari.

At first glance, the gaming apps — with names like “Pool 3D,” “Beer Pong: Trickshot” and “Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin” — seem innocuous. …

Yet these apps, once downloaded onto a smartphone, have the ability to keep tabs on the viewing habits of their users — some of whom may be children — even when the games aren’t being played. …

The apps use software from Alphonso, a start-up that collects TV-viewing data for advertisers. Using a smartphone’s microphone, Alphonso’s software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see. The information can then be used to target ads more precisely and to try to analyze things like which ads prompted a person to go to a car dealership.

More than 250 games that use Alphonso software are available in the Google Play store; some are also available in Apple’s app store. …

Sure, like anyone reads the fine print of software agreements:

Alphonso said that its software, which does not record human speech, is clearly explained in app descriptions and privacy policies and that the company cannot gain access to users’ microphones and locations unless they agree.

hat-tip Matthew