"Regular people, not just impersonal, commercially motivated merchants or advertising networks, can exploit the online advertising ecosystem to extract private information about other people, such as people that they know or that live nearby," reads the study, titled "Using Ad Targeting for Surveillance on a Budget."
The University of Washington researchers didn't exploit a bug or loophole in mobile advertising networks so much as reimagine the motivation and resources of an ad buyer to show how those networks' intentional tracking features allow relatively cheap, highly targeted spying. [...]
"If you want to make the point that advertising networks should be more concerned with privacy, the bogeyman you usually pull out is that big corporations know so much about you. But people don't really care about that," says University of Washington researcher Paul Vines. "But the potential person using this information isn't some large corporation motivated by profits and constrained by potential lawsuits. It can be a person with relatively small amounts of money and very different motives."
It Takes Just $1,000 to Track Someone's Location With Mobile Ads
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