I can’t believe this has to be said (again), but cyberpunk was meant as a warning, not a business plan.
It turns out that you need very few identifiers to make a guess about who a person standing in front of a billboard is, especially when you can suck data out of their phones. Throw in data about how long you stand in front of a billboard and you’ve got metrics that advertisers can use to tune their campaigns.
A year ago, researchers at Exodus Privacy identified dozens of trackers on smartphone apps that had collected massive amounts of information to better target advertising. Yale Privacy Lab replicated many of Exodus Privacy’s findings. Among the app researchers identified as having Cuebiq’s code signature was iHeartRadio, which is owned by Clear Channel.
The iHeartRadio app isn’t the only one to include Cuebiq’s code, though it’s one of the most popular, with over 50 million downloads from Google Play alone. Because iHeartRadio contains code from Cuebiq’s software development kit (SDK), Cuebiq may be able to harvest user analytics, behavior, location, and other identifying information, which it could then resell to a partner.
“The dirty work of crunching and providing the analytics is done by other companies they partner with, like Ubimo and Cuebiq. However, the iHeartRadio app, developed by another part of the same corporation, contains some of the same mobile app trackers these data launderers rely upon as a data source,” said O’Brien.