Some Smartphone Apps May be Tracking Your Whereabouts via Microphone


Photo by: Hamza Butt via Flickr


TV data company Alphonso’s monitoring software can be used to monitor smartphone users without them having the knowledge about it. This was according to a recent report published by The New York Times.

According to the report, hundreds of seemingly harmless apps and games may be monitoring the smartphone users through the built-in microphones. These apps, according to the report, are using a software from Alphonso. The software is supposed to quietly collect information about the TV viewing habits of a person, which they also sell to advertisers. 

Alphonso’s CEO Ashish Chordia shared that its Alphonso software is being used by over a thousand apps and games in total. However, Chordia did not share in particular detail what these certain apps are or the number of smartphone users affected. The CEO adds that in many cases, app users see a request notification to use their microphone.

The report said that the software is potentially alarming because it can record the audio in the surrounding area when the app is running.

NYT detailed that the tracking software works to use the microphone on a smartphone. Then, the software identifies the audio signals in shows and TV ads. The gathered data will then be used to analyze things, such as what prompted the user to opt for a car dealership or to target advertisements in a more precise way.

The US Federal Communications Commission that regulates interstate communications by radio, TV, wire, cable, and satellite have already issued warnings to app developers who are using controversial tracking software, such as the Silverpush code.