Privacy concerns have long swirled around how much information online advertising networks collect about people’s browsing, buying and social media habits — typically to sell you something.
But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee? Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house? Could a suspicious employer see if you’re using shopping apps on work time?
The answer is yes, at least in theory. New University of Washington research, to be presented in a paper Oct. 30 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, suggests that for roughly $1,000, someone with devious intent can purchase and target online advertising in ways that allow them to track the location of other individuals and learn what apps they are using.