Sci-fi fans will be familiar with the interactive ads featured in the world of the film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, where upon entering a shopping mall, shoppers’ eyes were scanned to allow the shops to specifically target ads based on a particular shopper’s previous habits, e.g. "Good afternoon, Mr. Yakamoto. How did you like … Continue Reading
Television broadcasters have long been able to track their shows' popularity. But a new bill introduced in Congress last week aims to regulate technology that would go even farther by using actual cameras and microphones on TV set-top boxes or DVRs to record viewers' reactions to advertisements.
On June 13, the We Are Watching You Act (H.R. 2356) was introduced by Representatives Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) and Michael Capuano (D-Mass.). That bill, if enacted, would require companies to obtain viewer consent before using surveillance devices embedded in set-top boxes and DVRs to track people's moods and reactions. The cameras and microphones would send cable companies data on the audience's activities, including comments, facial expressions, food consumption, and general moods, as well as their age and gender. According to Congressman Capuano, such technology is not yet in use--last year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected one company's patent application for such a system, and other companies have also reportedly explored similar technology. But the two lawmakers hope to put regulations in place preemptively, informing consumers and allowing them to opt out of such surveillance should it become a reality. Said Congressman Capuano, "[t]his may sound preposterous, but it is neither a joke nor an exaggeration. These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy."… Continue Reading