Schneier on Security

    Date20 Dec 2006
    5027
    Posted ByBrittany Day
    In the information age, surveillance isn't just for the police. Marketers want to watch you, too: what you do, where you go, what you buy. Integrated Media Measurement, Inc. wants to know what you watch and what you listen to -- wherever you are. They do this by turning traditional ratings collection on its head. Instead of a Neilsen-like system, which monitors individual televisions in an effort to figure out who's watching, IMMI measures individual people and tries to figure out what they're watching (or listening to).

    They do this through specially designed cell phones that automatically eavesdrop on what's going on in the room they're in: The IMMI phone randomly samples 10 seconds of room audio every 30 seconds. These samples are reduced to digital signatures, which are uploaded continuously to the IMMI servers. IMMI also tracks all local media outlets actively broadcasting in any given designated media area (DMA). To identify media, IMMI compares the uploaded audio signatures computed by the phones with audio signatures computed on the IMMI servers monitoring TV and radio broadcasts. IMMI also maintains client-provided content files, such as commercials, promos, movies, and songs.

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