Basically what I make of this is that cell phone companies (for sure AT&T) have already agreed to sell Clear Channel your location data. Do they already disseminate this information out to anyone who is willing to pay for it or is this new?
Edit - I found they do and below are there are opt out links for different cell providers.
Large wealthy entities are going to act like assholes, and guess what we learned in kindergarten. All it takes is one fucking asshole to ruin a good thing that used work for everyone.
Sorry, but running around with a uniquely identifiable radio badge is now officially being used against you. It's not just about law enforcement using this system against criminals anymore. It's about anyone with enough money, exploiting every naive sucker minding their own business.
Welcome to the future.
Say you have a speeding ticket on your record:
(X1, Y1) coordinates at time A
(X2, Y2) coordinates at time B
Where X1, X2, Y1, Y2, are all accessible via your cellular data. With an accurate enough signal, your speed can be accurately measured, given A & B. All of this is becoming a reality as faster "LTE" (and soon, 5G) speeds are just enabling the transmission of your data faster to hands you weren't aware of.
The automation of speeding tickets is just waiting for a developer to sell to overstaffed PDs strapped for cash. Sending in a speeding ticket in the mail as if one ran through a red light with a traffic camera. As adoption increases, they won't even need a previous offense on your record.
As much as selling my location is infuriating, I'm not likely to give up my pocket computer. The benefit to my life - instant maps and directions, communications, and access to the wealth of the world's information at my fingertips is enough of a benefit - for me, that is.
I hate that there has to be a cost that feels vicious, but it is what it is right now. I do hope the privacy pendulum swings back a bit.
Is there an assumption hidden in this statement? That the cost of map data _must_ be sending personal information to Google? Why can't the cost be a dollar value? What if it was? How much do you estimate it would be? Would you pay it?
Could there be a company that could create maps and directions of the same or better quality than the enormous, well-known one you mentioned? And could that company charge actual currency for licensing the data? In fact I believe there was such a company, until Google acquired them and their work became "Maps".
I also remember in the earlier days of the www getting directions without sending personal information to Google, via sites like MapQuest. I also remember map software that did not require internet connectivity.
"As much as [what Google chooses to do] is infuriating, I'm not likely to give up my pocket computer..."
Is there another hidden assumption in this statement? That it would be _impossible_ to build a pocket computer that can serve maps and directions from a local data store, without an internet connection?
"...but it is what it is right now."
Right now, and forever more. Because there is only one "proper" way to do things, and that's how they're being done now. Those are safe assumptions, yes?
I live out this sentiment in my donations to Wikimedia whenever they start bugging us for donations.
I do have a tangible "value added" from going to their site and using Wikis, and thus I'm more than happy to shell out some sheckels for what they offer.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are simply not aware of the implications of these "free" services they use (picture me doing the double quote hand gesture when I say "free" here). I don't want to call them ignorant, as many have a general understanding that they are being data mined, but they are unaware of the _implications_ of such, compared to your average HN reader who often has been around big data, or handled it themselves. (Read: "Nothing to hide" argument)
> Right now, and forever more. Because there is only one "proper" way to do things, and that's how they're being done now. Those are safe assumptions, yes?
THe bright side is that they are safe assumptions until people start waking up and learning of ways to minimize (not completely remove) their "data footprint" - NoScript, Ghostery, uBlock, Disconnect, etc. etc.
And perhaps there is a niche market for a Non-Internet-Required "MapQuest" style iOS/Android App, waiting to be struck ;).
And sell the data to a single person who merely wants it, or maybe a motivated group of people who have an incentive, and can pay...
Or maybe someone looking to buy an election and maybe even sell an entire war... Which has never happened before, I'm sure. News Corp. Enron. Doesn't matter.
Who ever it was the last time, the next time, the names will be different, but we'll be blind-sided again, all the same. And how could this have possibly happened? Where did we go wrong?
But safety in numbers, relying on my own safety as one in a city of millions, means my data is surely worthless, right?
Who would care about me? And then everyone else says that too. And then you have the whole city that way.
1) AT&T cell tower data. All major US carriers collect aggregate movement data, and some have productized it (check out Grandata and Streetlight Data if you're interested). They're likely providing something like a persons count by daypart to Clear Channel at some geography, likely census block group. AT&T likely provides course demographics as well (either by purchasing them from a data broker like Experian or Epsilon) or by looking up the aggregate demo characteristics reported by the US Census for the block group of the subscribers household. As an aside, current gen (4G) cell tower data isn't very precise - maybe 100m accuracy or worse.
2) Placed opt in GPS panel data. There are many market research companies that pay consumer run location tracking apps (mFour and Instantly are other examples). Placed is probably the biggest (~1mm panelists).
3) PlaceIQ mobile ad server GPS data. PlaceIQ, xAd, Factual, Verve, Ninth Decimal...all of these companies read the lat / long coordinates provided by mobile SSPs in mobile RTB bid stream to create location segment profiles associated with your phone's Ad ID. The data isn't very accurate (mobile ad fraud is a problem...an app change the GPS coord from rural Kansas to downtown Manhattan to juice their CPM in an auction; also, most of the GPS used for buying mobile inventory is via "LastKnownLocation" apis which are notoriously inaccurate). These guys generally use their data to group your Ad ID into a segment (if they see you at a Wendy's, they'll sell your Ad ID to mobile RTB bidders as a "Frequent Wendy's eater"). Clear Channel is probably using this to see if exposure to a billboard caused you to make a purchase that they can attribute to your Ad ID (say via the advertisers CRM database), or to augment the demo data from AT&T with demo segments they can buy from mobile data exchanges.
Why do they pay consumers when so many apps collect that data for free?
-Facebook or Google don't sell their raw user data. They can tell me how effective the ads I placed on their sites were at driving visits or sales by matching my customer's email & phone numbers to their users (see  and ), but they won't give me data on my competitor, and the data will always be aggregated. So on to the next idea..
-Mobile ad server data aggregators might sell me their raw data, but the quality isn't great. Sure, they track 100m+ devices...but how many times do they see each of those devices a day? For most devices it's 10 times or less, so you're going to have a big problem with false negatives (people who visited Big Box Retailer and Small Box Retailer, but due to the sparsity of the data I miss one of those visits). On to the next...
-Foursquare is newly in the data business, but despite having a big audience (50m MAU), only ~1.3m users have opted in for continuous measurement (). On top of that, Foursquare's audience is pretty skewed - if Big Box Retailer's customers are older, I'm going to have trouble finding them in Foursquare's data set, which means the effective size of their 1.3m 'panel' is really something like 200k-500k. On top of that, I can't survey them to verify they actually visited Small Box Retailer instead of the McDonalds next store, since the GPS data Foursquare pulls is LastKnown instead of exact.
-...so if the only data I can buy on the open market is skewed, not really that big (not to mention collected under potentially dubious privacy policies), whats my alternative? Thats the need these panels are filling.
As an aside, if you're curious what apps on your phone are collecting your location data, you can use a self-hosted MITM server w/ SSL decryption to sniff your own traffic. Here's own for Android: https://code.google.com/archive/p/sandrop/
Facebook didn't buy Oculus because they wanted to take fruit ninja to the next level...
The camera based systems I saw used facial detection. The vendors were very keen to refer to "detection" not "recognition" since they (supposedly) only looked at faces and analysed them for demographic information, they didn't track you as an individual. (I'm sure they would have eventually - there's too much money at stake to not track someone's movements and show them relevant ads)
There's lots of vendors of facial detection software than claim to be able to detect:
- mood (though that one's a bit suspect)
- where your attention is focused
Most of the software does a decent enough job of most of those.
Some vendors would use the camera to track how many people watched the ad, their age/gender breakdown, how long it held their attention, etc. In those cases it was just about providing "performance" reporting to the advertiser. Often they would have minimum audience guarantees, and would keep running the ad until it hit its levels.
Others tried to target specific ads to specific demographics. They'd have a bunch of ads loaded, and would pick which one to show based on the demographics of current audience.
I'm wondering what's stopping people from just covering up the camera with tape or something.
Edit: Never mind. I found one: http://static01.nyt.com/images/2008/05/31/business/31billboa...
I know that this argument applies to many things, but this one in particular seems utterly un-regulatable to me.
If I walk through a city center and I'm bombarded with unavoidable billboards, it's just not good for my brain. I don't want it, it's pollution, poison. I would love a real-life ad blocker for public transport, for example.
So what happens next? When do cities, local governments (London boroughs, say) start to care? Do they ever start to care that commutes, everyday lives of citizens are being destroyed (is there a clear enough causal link)?
Or do we have to wait until people like me start moving out of the city because they don't want to see bollocks flashing lights everywhere, they don't want to walk through a Minority Report like scene of pervasive unavoidable attention grabbers?
Additionally, government transit organizations make money off of the advertising sold on their vehicles and property which can in turn be used to re-invest in infrastructure to benefit the average user. Things like digital signage and free Wi-Fi are sponsored by the advertisements and improve the various transit systems they are implemented in.
Those other forms are generally avoidable with either zero cost, or a (debatable) net gain.
For example, one can simply choose to not watch broadcast TV, or read newspapers, preferring instead ad-free sources (which are generally better in my experience anyway).
I can't opt out of outdoor advertising without leaving employment opportunities behind or moving away from family and friends.
So that makes the baseline zero against something.
We have Piccadilly Circus/Times Square style moving LED billboards popping up in more and more places now with inane products on them. I don't want to look at pointless consumerist nonsense all day, I want to see life, not capitalism. If you think that's easy to just 'block' I suspect you're quite different to me.
Taking the LU as an example: there are ads above and in front of your head at all times, at stations (every minute) there are ads on the walls (which sometimes move), the escalators have moving LCD screens with advertising on them. Then you get outside and there's probably an advert in front of your face (because the station is a heavily trafficked area).
TV is no comparison! That's 10 minutes completely ad-free with a break that you can stand up and walk away from.
No, that's a lie. GPS data is not available by default and can be controlled by the user. It's certainly not something that has been available for years to advertisers. It sounds like despite any permissions you may refuse in your OS/apps that AT&T will sell your data regardless (unless you opt out). Also, I know it's the NYT, but there's no such thing as anonymizing data. This has been shown over and over again that pretty much any data can be de-anonymized rather easily.
So outdoor advertisers can potentially pixel customers who see an "impression" like they do for online ads and track conversion behavior if they ultimately walk into a store?
The article doesn't speak much to this, but what opt-in permission would a user give to actually allow their location to constantly be relayed to advertisers to make this possible? Would Target need to hide this in their T&C of their app and then match it against the billboard's data on an advertiser-by-advertiser basis...?
Yes, this is possible today.
That would be true if your best friend didn't know your name, address, email, date of birth, and phone number. You see, AT&T, among others, will scrub Personally Identifiable Information("PII") from the data before sharing the data.
None of these services know that I'm into hobby bonsai because I've never given them that information. So if don't want to be followed and frightened by them, then limit how you use them.
Advertisers are always looking for better ways to target a specific audience, publishers are looking for ways to charge higher CPMs, and DMPs are helping both achieve their goal while tracking you across numerous sites on the internet.
What a sick world this has become.
"AT&T provides valuable insights to businesses without compromising consumer privacy. AT&T Data Patterns does not share individual data – only counts. For instance, a report might tell what percentage of passersby is males aged 20-30. Consumers are always able to opt-out of having their anonymous, aggregated information used at att.com/cmpchoice."
I think it's inevitable but it's not nice to know it's happening.
*Excludes Facebook Ads