*

*
Hawk on a wire © Robert Sommers 2022

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Listening in?

I was talking to a friend in Alaska on our cell phones yesterday about Peruvian food, I had just gone to Panca in Oceanside Sunday night. 

When he got home and turned on his computer he was suddenly bombarded with advertisements for Peruvian food.

He was put out as I would be. Are there people listening in to our private communications and straining them for keywords?

This happened once before to me, I was talking to a friend about railroad ties and the same thing happened. Immediate barrage of ads. Very specific topics, beyond coincidence.

How does this occur? Are ATT, Verizon and the other providers listening in to all of our phone conversations? If so, is it legal?

*

On another privacy front, a company called SafeGraph is selling the data and locations of people who visit abortion clinics. That does not sound like it will end well.

SafeGraph’s Patterns data aims to answer questions like “how often people visit, how long they stay, where they came from, where else they go, and more,” according to SafeGraph’s website. SafeGraph calculates where it believes visitors to a location live to the census block level. SafeGraph does this by analyzing where a phone is commonly located overnight, the company’s documentation suggests.

Tracking visitors to abortion clinics has long been a staple in showing the threat posed by location data. In a 2018 investigation, The New York Times took location data and followed multiple people inside it, and unmasked some of those. One of the people followed visited a Planned Parenthood facility, according to the report.

Recently, a Christian-focused outlet The Pillar published a piece that used location data to track the movements of a specific priest and then outed him publicly as potentially gay without his consent.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

What's next...Republicans will legalize slavery. I'll come up with a few more.

Also, I had a similar thing happen with my phone/computer, in terms of an ad popping up. Can't recall it exactly, but do recall i was stunned. Sure wasn't a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

I've had that happen as well, I lost my keys and was ranting around the house, not even on my computer or phone, and suddenly many ads for lost-key devices appeared on my fb feed. I think there is some kind of program that listens all the time for key phrases and sends that information on. Who knows what other devices are listening, like the TV. Maybe my coffeemaker? ~ Diane O

Ken Seals said...

It's very likely they are listening. Lauren has had that experience often. Is it possible he googled "Peruvian Food" earlier?

Blue Heron said...

No Ken, I brought the topic up fresh out of left field.