UK billboard advertisers misuse personal data, report

Advertisers use data collected from millions of phones in the UK to determine which ads will be shown on billboards in various locations across the country.

This is according to a new analysis [pdf] By Big Brother Watch, a London-based civil liberties group, detailing the ways in which advertisers use lessons learned from mobile advertising to show ads tailored to different types of individuals in the real world.

Report called The streets are watchinghighlights how Targeted ads It is no longer confined to our personal summaries but is beginning to infiltrate our material public lives.

“We’ve discovered new ways that millions of people are usingTheir movements and behaviors are tracked to target us with ads in the streets, which leads to some of the most intrusive ad monitoring.said Jake Horfort, Head of Research and Investigations at Big Brother Watch.

According to the research, marketers can create personalized advertising profiles for pedestrians based on their specific GPS location, gender, and age demographics, as well as behavioral data such as how they interact with different apps.

Digital billboards can be programmed to display multiple messages, unlike traditional paper billboards, which have advertisements printed on vinyl. Many of them also feature high-resolution cameras that allow them to look at an unsuspecting audience.

Then, algorithms try to determine a person’s face, physical traits, and even what they might wear in order to personalize ads to individuals strolling on the street or shopping in malls.

According to the research, two of the UK’s major billboard operators, Ocean Outdoor and Clear Channel, rely on facial recognition software produced by French company Quividi.

The company claims that its technology is able to scan up to 100 faces at once and determine how much time an individual spends near or paying attention to an advertisement.

In addition, it makes an effort to specify details such as age, gender, and temperament.

This data, when paired with information on crowd size and peoplePay attention to ads, it can be used to make edits targeting broad audiences.

Although this approach is preferred by advertisers due to its effectiveness, the report stresses that widespread user data collection raises serious privacy issues.

One of the primary problems with companies using data collection tools to customize billboards is that they “undermine the concept of public spaces,” says Arvind Narayanan, a professor of computer science at Princeton University.

“It’s hard to have spontaneous, casual social interactions with strangers when you’re staring at content that targets you knowing you’re being watched,” Narayanan said Motherboard.

A Quividi . spokeswoman said Motherboard Its software is based on face detection rather than facial recognition.

“These are two different technologies. Face detection only looks for the presence of a face while facial recognition looks for and identifies a specific person.”

Big Brother Watch also draws attention to core issues with “universal consent,” which were previously only associated with digital ecosystems. Those same concerns now apply to pedestrians trying to get home or around town, according to the report.

The report reads: “Consent cannot beneficially be granted for any of these data operations, as the individual is often within sight of cameras attached to billboards or tablets before they are alerted to the processing and have the option to turn away.”

“This data is collected not just to see if an advertising campaign was successful but to change how people experience reality without their explicit consent, all in an effort to make more sales.”

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