Archive for category Privacy

How to stop robocalls from flooding your iPhone

Image result for robocalling“An unfamiliar number appears on your cellphone. It’s from your area code, so you answer it, thinking it might be important,” Christopher Mele writes for The New York Times. “There is an unnatural pause after you say hello, and what follows is a recording telling you how you can reduce your credit card interest rates or electric bill or prescription drug costs or any of a number of other sales pitches. Another day, another irritating robocall. If it feels as if your cellphone has increasingly been flooded with them, you’re right.”“In a Robocall Strike Force Report in October, the Federal Communications Commission said telemarketing calls were the No. 1 consumer complaint,” Mele writes. “The most simple and effective remedy is to not answer numbers you don’t know.”

“List your phones on the National Do Not Call Registry. If your number is on the registry and you do get unwanted calls, report them,” Mele writes. “Download apps such as Truecaller, RoboKiller, Mr. Number, Nomorobo and Hiya, which will block the calls… And then there is the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, which turns the tables on telemarketers. This program allows a customer to put the phone on mute and patch telemarketing calls to a robot, which understands speech patterns and inflections and works to keep the caller engaged.”

Read more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Read the full article. The National Do Not Call Registry is certainly not a panacea. These unsolicited calls are an insidious problem and the lengths to which some of these scammers go (don’t say the word “yes” or they’ll use it to bill you) is criminal!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Whit D.” for the heads up.]


Yahoo eyes billboard that can spy on drivers inside their cars



Yahoo, under fire over this week’s revelation that it helped the federal government spy on its users, has applied for two related patents describing a camera-equipped billboard that can spy on drivers.

The patent applications, submitted in March 2015 and made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, describe a billboard that has sensors including cameras, microphones and even retina scanners built in or positioned nearby.

“Image or video data may be processed to determine whether any individuals looked directly at the advertising content (e.g., using image recognition and/or eye tracking techniques),” said the patent documents, which use much of the same language in describing the technology.

Verbal reactions by passersby could be collected via microphones. “Audio data captured by one or more microphones may be processed using speech recognition techniques to identify keywords relating to the advertising that are spoken by members of the audience,” the documents said. “Image data or motion/proximity sensor data may be processed to determine whether any members of the audience paused or slowed down near the advertising content, from which it may be inferred that the pause or slowing was in response to the advertising content.”

The invention, which of course is not guaranteed to appear on roadsides, represents an attempt to bring online-style targeted advertising to billboard ads.

“Advertising in public places (e.g., roadside billboards, public transit, etc.) continues to be an important channel for advertisers even though it does not offer the kind of individual targeting by which online techniques are characterized,” the patent documents said.

“Many roadside billboards are still static printed images that must be manually installed and remain in place for long periods of time relative to the lifespan of an online ad. Some billboards have been implemented as large screens that display a fixed rotation of images… but while these billboards represent a step in the direction of the digital age, they lag far behind their online counterparts in a number of respects.”

The billboard could identify individual drivers via data from mobile devices, vehicle-navigation systems, cell towers, mobile apps and images, the documents said.

User databases would add demographic information about particular people in range of the billboard.

The system would also employ cameras and image-recognition software to identify the makes and models of vehicles to gather information about the “socioeconomic status” of people driving past. “The demographics of motorists during rush hour on a weekday in Silicon Valley can be expected to be very different from the demographics of mid-afternoon traffic in that same location on a weekend or Friday evening traffic headed into San Francisco,” the documents said.

While the patent documents describe individual targeting of advertising, the idea is to serve up ads that will appeal to as many people passing by as possible. The technology aims to create an “aggregate audience profile” of traffic passing a billboard at a particular time. That profile would be used to market space on billboards, with the space sold to advertisers in an auction process similar to that for online ads.

Yahoo is not the first company to pursue “smart” billboards. Clear Channel, a billboard-advertising company, earlier this year rolled out a program that links billboard ads to aggregate demographic information about passing motorists gathered by third party partners via the motorists’ mobile devices. Clear Channel’s “Radar” billboard-ad program does not, according to the company’s marketing material, use the cameras, microphones and other sensors described by Yahoo in its patent applications.

Read more:

Photo: Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

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