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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Facebook wants to record sounds around phones

After the recent Facebook scandal about data from more than 50 million Facebook users used by Cambridge Analytica to influence users' policies in the recent US presidential and Brexit elections, it would have been thought that the company would have kept a low profile for all the data collection that is the basis of its activity. But recent information released to the general public on recent concepts that the company would seek to patent shows that the latest scandal would not have undermined the company's intention to collect more data from users.
As of December 2016, Facebook is reported to have initiated a patent filing process for a new concept that allows it to trigger the microphone of a smartphone and record the ambient audio from that device when this device detects a high-frequency sound that is inaudible to the user. to be human and broadcast in a TV program as an advertisement.
According to the FPO page which lists the patents filed by the companies, the publication of the Facebook patent named "analysis of the display of content broadcast according to the ambient audio recording", was made on June 14 and described in a manner the following points:
An online system [which could be an application located on a device like a smartphone] analyzes the content distributed by individuals in a household. Each individual in the household is associated with a client device on which a software application module is executed.
When the software application module detects one or more broadcast signals of a content element [such as an advertisement on a smart TV] broadcast in the home, the software application module records the ambient audio, including the audio from the broadcasting device.
The software application module sends [to the Facebook server] an identifier of the individual associated with the client device, an ambient audio footprint derived from the recorded ambient audio, and time information for the ambient audio recorded to the system in question. line.
In addition to the ambient audio, the unit also records the content in which the recording trigger signal is located. As a first step, this concept could be used to determine the impact of TV ads on users. For example, when an advertisement appears on TV, if the user moves away from the TV or changes channel, it would mean that the user is not interested in it. The analysis of ambient audio should allow Facebook to know what are the commercials on TV that have a particular impact on users.
While the intent of this concept is commendable because it would allow the company to shape the content of the ads based on the interests of each user, several concerns emerge from this concept. First, by browsing through the elements of this patent, we first note that the application of Facebook that is installed on the smartphone - and responsible for detecting the signals broadcast by the TV program to begin recording audio ambient - continuously listening to the ambient audio of the device while waiting for the signal to be output to start recording. For users, this could constitute a violence of privacy which some users would like to do without at the time of the general regulation on data protection.
Secondly, we point out that data published online by users is usually voluntary and controlled. But as for the audio recorded by the microphone of the device once the perceived signal, a filtering is not performed even if the user agrees that this option is used on his device. At any time, the recording could begin when you are in front of the TV. Thus, a user could have very intimate conversations recorded and transmitted to Facebook without knowing it.

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