Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Thursday March 17, 2016

FTC Issues Warning Letters to App Developers Using Audio Monitoring Technology

The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has issued warning letters to app developers who have installed a piece of software that can monitor a device’s microphone to listen for audio signals that are embedded in television advertisements. Known as Silverpush, the software is designed to monitor consumers’ television use through the use of "audio beacons" emitted by TVs, which consumers can’t hear but can be detected by the software. The letters note that the software would be capable of producing a detailed log of the television content viewed while a user’s mobile device was turned on for the purpose of targeted advertising and analytics.

The letters note that Silverpush has stated publicly that its service is not currently in use in the United States, but it encourages app developers to notify consumers that their app could allow third parties to monitor consumers’ television viewing habits should the software begin to be used in the United States. The warning letters note that app developers ask users for permission to use the device’s microphone, despite the apps not appearing to have a need for that functionality. The letters also note that nowhere do the apps in question provide notice that the app could monitor television-viewing habits, even if the app is not in use.

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