back to article Anti-ultrasound tech aims to foil the dog-whistle marketeers

Marketeers are coming up with ways to invade our privacy in the interests of serving us ads in a way that goes far beyond the dire predictions of films such as Minority Report. Security researchers are already thinking about countermeasures. Cross-device tracking (XDT) technologies allow marketeers to track the user's visited …

  1. Mage


    A low pass filter on inputs (mic) and outputs (speakers).

    The actual transmission channels can't actually carry true ultrasonic signals as they are limited to less than 22 to 24 kHz.

    FM Radio to under 15kHz

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Or

      Most adults have a hearing threshold under 16KHz leaving a couple of KHz to squeeze a beacon in.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Or

        Hopefully the next generation will get fed up of all the noise and do something about it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or


      3. druck Silver badge

        Re: Or

        My hearing threshold is down to 8KHz.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Or

      Don't these beacons fall foul of the ruling against the "mosquito" device for stopping kids hanging around? i.e. they are "discriminatory" against a large demographic on arbitrary grounds because they cause noise nuisance to kids.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or

        Don't these beacons fall foul of the ruling against the "mosquito" device for stopping kids hanging around?

        They would, if it wasn't for the first rule of especially US based business: as long as nobody notices, it's considered acceptable in business terms.

        When someone notices, have an excuse ready so you can continue doing it until it eventually makes it to court. When courst say "no", make sure you have already scurried away any data into another location or copied it so you can keep using it despite explicitly been told not to. And "accidentally" introduce it again, but make sure you can blame it on a rogue engineer (worked for Google's WiFi snooping, after all).

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "track the user's visited content across different devices to then push relevant, more targeted ads."

    I think you misspelled irrelevant.

    1. VinceH

      I think the misspelling might have been "annoying". I'm sure it's an easy mistake to make.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I keep hoping for someone to ask one of these ad-idiots how is "relevant" defined? Seems like it's buy something and then get hit with a zillion ads for the same damn product. Or is "relevant" have something to do with singing, dancing, blinking ads that take up half the screen or better?

      Disclaimer: I do run a heavy HOSTS file and also Adblock. I've never clicked on an ad to buy something. I ignore the "ad" links in a Google search. Periodically, I drop the shields (except for 3rd party cookies just see if anything has changed. Nope. Same silly, irritating, bandwidth hogging shit.

      And these ad clowns wonder why.....

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I ignore the "ad" links in a Google search."

        I've noticed that avoiding ads is so ingrained in my subconcious these days that even when I am looking to buy something, I still the Google Ad links, even when it's from the supplier I'm looking for and carry on down the results list for a "proper" link.

        The advertisers have made it so that I don't even use the ads when I could.

        1. Runilwzlb

          Keep doing what you're doing

          What you're doing is a good strategy. If you want something, go to the source. Clicking on an ad just flags you as a "mark", as in fool, patsy, with a great big target sign painted on your t-shirt. Avoiding ads is by no means fool proof, but why announce to world +dog that you're available for their abuse.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Keep doing what you're doing

            So how do you find the source without an ad of some sort, especially if they're not listed in the phone book (which I don't have anyway)?

  3. Trigonoceps occipitalis


    do they think that stealing my paid for power to run a beacon I do not want is in any way acceptable?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Why

      And in many countries, theft of power is a specific criminal offence. Or can I by-pass my 'leccy meter and claim (something). Profit!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, this is going to have an obvious end..

    .. in a world with ever escalating violence to the point where idiotic presidential candidates are promoting it, I suspect that eventually marketeers will get it too.

    At which point the remaing ones will start marketing personal protection...

  5. JeffyPoooh


    Somebody with more ambition than I could develop a hardware gadget to monitor the local ultrasonic acoustic spectrum for any such stealthy communications. Then advise the user and/or block (jam). It would be easy to 'Kickstarter' this.

    Others could create a smartphone app to do the same thing. Using the same smartphone microphone that is supposedly capable of listening to signals this high in the acoustic spectrum.

    Getting into 'The Art of War' mode, someone could write an app to issue false tracking data, on the local ultrasonic acoustic spectrum, so that advertisers would believe that I'm in the market for lady's micro-bikinis, thus dramatically improving my ads.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Getting into 'The Art of War' mode

    That's actually the sad thing: this too has indeed become a war.

    I think we've had it wrong all along. There hasn't been a war on terror or suchlike. The bottomline is that it's a war on common decency, on standards of conduct we always took for granted.

    Well, screw that. Vive la résistance!

  7. AndrueC Silver badge
    1. Runilwzlb

      Thanks for the link

      A bit of an obscure, convoluted way to make a point, but ...ok. Followed the link to Space Merchants. I love classic Sci-Fi and I don't remember reading this I shall. Gracias.

  8. find users who cut cat tail

    I cannot see why my computers should display ads at all. Or my mobile phones (well, at present mine even cannot do so, but that is beside the point). Or why, when I have a mobile phone with me in the mall, it should be taken out of the bag if no one calls me. I am that old?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Yes, you are that old if you're not down with on-the-spot research using data that never gets printed.

  9. Runilwzlb

    Jurassic Park was right

    So many gee-whiz developments. And each one ends up being a new way for people to get scrod [past tense of... ] by that tech being trivially easy to abuse. Its reported here all the time. New tech! Cue applause! Oh, by the way it can be used to (multiple choice) steal, your identity, spy on you, track you, mine you, steal your money, pwn your car, turn your tech into a money making bot for a crime ring, etc. (casually mentioned).

    "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should."

    Jurassic Park

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