Most people don’t think about the microphone on their mobile phone unless it isn’t working. Most people don’t know that if it is on, it is working all of the time and is capturing private data that it has access to.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warning letters to app developers using the software known as Silverpush. According to the FTC, Silverpush is software that “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.”
According to the FTC, Silverpush is capable of tracking detailed information about the content of television usage if a user’s mobile device is turned on while s/he was watching TV. It can also produce a log of the consumer’s television viewing habits so the usage can be analyzed for targeted advertising purposes. “These apps were cable of listening in the background and collecting information about consumers without notifying them” said the FTC.
The FTC warned the app developers that they should provide notice to users about the listening capabilities of the software and to get user’s permission before using the microphone function. If they don’t, the FTC warned that they could be in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.
To avoid the listening feature of the microphone on your mobile phone, check that microphone setting or turn off your phone while you are watching TV or doing anything else that does not require the use of your microphone.