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

Be careful! Your phone app could be recording and tracking your viewing habits, and using the information in conjunction with your location to target you with ads during your next browsing session.

According to the New York Times, A data firm called Alphonso that collects television viewing information through a smartphone’s microphone and sells that data to advertisers. The tracking software is piggybacked onto free games and apps such as Beer Pong: Trickshot and Pool 3D. Even when the app is not in use, it can listen for audio cues from TV shows and commercials to monitor what you’re watching. More than 250 games that use Alphonso software can be downloaded from the Google Play store, many of them targeted to children.

Although the company claims it doesn’t listen to conversations, according to its website, it uses “advanced fingerprinting technology to identify ads and programming airing on TV in a fraction of a second, in a completely anonymous fashion.” The site calls it a TV Data Cloud and boasts that “40 million smart TVs, set-top boxes, mobile and living room devices with embedded Alphonso technology report viewership data in real time.”

Alphonso relies on the content-recognition company Shazam to identify the excerpts contained in its data cloud, and Shazam then sells the information back to Alphonso, which packages it and sells it to advertisers.




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