Google Phone Calls

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has tried to file a patent today that would allow the company to listen in on phone calls in order to target advertisements. It may sound outlandishly authoritarian but the technology to achieve such an outcome was revealed today in a patent application that was made public. The technology would listen to background noise on the phone call, rather than the actual speech, in order to target ads based on environmental conditions. The company already has the technology to tweak its ads based on location, web history, email contents, smart phone usage, taste in music and film, and personal information. The environmental addition would lead to ads providing umbrellas in rainy weather or sun block on a sunny day.

If the firm denies concerns and the technology actually makes it to see the light of day, as many such patents do not, it will lead to many being paranoid of the company’s intentions and increasingly skeptical of the company’s motto, “Don’t Be Evil”. The patent shows that background noise from a phone call would be sent to Google’s servers where it would be analysed and turned into targeted advertisements. The possibilities for its use are manifold and we will have to wait and see if and how the company will utilize the technology.

The company’s patent has been received quite badly by commentators. The move is seen as over reaching in to customers personal lives. The company has been likened to a police state such as that in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. The latest complaints some in the midst of the company’s other battles on privacy including an investigation into a worm targeting apple users and European Union scrutiny on the legality of the  company’s new privacy policy. As analysts and users increasingly cry that the company is going too far the firm themselves do not seem to see the problem. They continue in their Orwellian vein as if nobody is noticing. How long their willful ignorance can last it is difficult to tell though it is almost certain that at some point the company will need to make a U turn to improve its image or face mass exodus from its services. Former employees of the firm released a plug in for the Chrome browser which allows users to block Google’s insistent web tracking cookies.