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Communications The Almighty Buck

Free Phone Calls... If Advertisers Can Eavesdrop 246

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the why-are-my-ads-all-about-boobs dept.
Dekortage writes "Today, Pudding Media is introducing an Internet phone service similar to Skype's online service, but without any toll charges. The catch: they are eavesdropping on phone calls with voice recognition software to monitor calls, then push conversation-relevant the ads to the subscriber's computer screen. Interestingly, during tests, "conversations [were] actually changing based on what was on the screen," said the president. "Our ability to influence the conversation was remarkable.""
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Free Phone Calls... If Advertisers Can Eavesdrop

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  • How do I tag? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:11AM (#20729251)
    Where's the "sheeple" tag? How do I tag a /. article?
    • Click on the arrow on the left of the tags list.
      • by QuickFox (311231) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:22AM (#20729427)
        That's just for getting a widget that gives you the illusion that you're tagging the article. For your tag to really show up in the list of tags, something else is needed — some very secret voodoo it seems.
    • Re:How do I tag? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Divebus (860563) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:18AM (#20729353)
      Don't think this isn't already happening on land lines - and the ads show up as the Swat team.
    • Where's the "sheeple" tag? How do I tag a /. article?

      If there were a tag, it would be passing fad.

      This is like Net Zero free internet. Wow Free internet!! Wohoo where do I sign up.

      We all know the outcome. Too slow, too many disruptions, requires non-standard browser, etc. People talked about the advertisements just like the first cell phone calls were mostly "do you know where I am calling you from? I'm calling from my car phone!"

      Don't be fooled by the early indicators. People rarely talk about the fac
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:13AM (#20729263) Homepage Journal
    I should discuss my grandma's sweet 'n' sour chicken breast recipe more often...
  • Fascinating (Score:3, Funny)

    by zsouthboy (1136757) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:13AM (#20729265)
    I can't wait to see ads for hookers and blow on my computer screen.

    I mean - more ads for hookers and blow.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:13AM (#20729273) Journal
    ...but somebody is cashing in on ad revenue at the same time?

    Seriously, though, I'm not to the point where my phone bill is so expensive I'd do this. Cable TV on the other hand...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ...but somebody is cashing in on ad revenue at the same time?
      Seriously, though, I'm not to the point where my phone bill is so expensive I'd do this. Cable TV on the other hand...

      That's what I thought initially, then I realized that the consumer is the one adapting to the business model. This means that instead of unknowingly and unintentionally giving up rights, the customer is completely in the know.

      Additionally, they are offering you phone service in return, so for some people this may be a business model for them and they wouldn't mind the company "cashing in" on ad revenue instead of their own pocketbook. It's true that I wouldn't adapt to this, but I can see where it may b

      • Except that ... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Monday September 24, 2007 @12:06PM (#20730027)

        Except that this is a legal morass in the making.

        Sure, they got an opt-in of the caller but do they have opt-in from the recipient?! So some imbecile calls you on that thing, and without warning you are being monitored/recorded by some inane corporate NSA-wannabe operation, with no idea by whom and where your call is being listened to, and retained for purposes you can't predict.

        The only way I can see this being even remotely legal in many places is if you get a message in the vain of "The party calling you has opted for recording of this call for undetermined purposes by any and all corporate afilliates of afilliates of the NSA-wannabies who paid the sheep in question for his call, Press 1 to accept the incoming call, Baaaaah, Press 2 to indicate that you still have a brain..." or some such.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:15AM (#20729291) Journal

    "Our ability to influence the conversation was remarkable."
    Phil: Hey Bob I just got into the beta for a new Internet phone service and I'm calling you right now on it.
    Bob: Oh yeah? Oh, is that the free phone calls with conversation-relevant ads showing up on your screen?
    Phil: That's right, it's completely free!
    Bob: Heh, monkey sex.
    Phil: Uh, what?
    Bob: Monkey sex!
    Phil: Ew, gross, stop that.
    Bob: Beastiality.
    Phil: Oh yuck, these flash based ads are ...
    Bob: Goatse.
    Phil: Ahhhhhhhhh! *click*
    • Phil: Hey Bob, the wife and I are ready for that cruise vacation!
      Telemarketer: How about a nice holiday in Sweden?
      Bob: Who was that?
      Phil: Excuse me, I have to go sack somebody.
    • by Stonent1 (594886)
      Hey it worked for NetZero right? Free internet as long as they can flood you with ads that you have to click every few minutes to maintain the connection. Oh wait... No it didn't work! And now they are a traditional dial-up ISP.
    • Chaffing the system (Score:3, Interesting)

      by goombah99 (560566)
      Since the system is free there's no harm, to you at least, in having infinite length phone calls. So do the following..call yourself (one browser to another). Play MP3s or NPR or Rush limbaugh into it. This will chaffe the system with ludicrous amounts of nonsense data. They will never be able to get a profile on you for the few real phone calls you make.
      • by Alsee (515537)
        Discount narcotics! Low low Mexican import prices! Click here now! Multiple prescriptions not a problem!

        -
      • Or have a text-to-speech system read your spam folder to them. Now THAT should create interesting data!
  • by AccUser (191555) <mhg@@@taose...co...uk> on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:16AM (#20729305) Homepage
    So adverts shown on screen changed what the callers were talking about?

    Me: Hi boss, I was thinking about a raise...
    Boss: Hi. Er, did you know you can get herbal viagra?
  • Oh boy! Another way to get all of those ads and offers I so enjoy to my computer screen! I thought all this adware stuff was the bees knees. Now this comes along!
  • Please stop the ads. Just stop. Stop the ads on TV and radio, in magazines and movies, at ball games and on buses, on milk cartons and t-shirts, and everywhere else inbetween. Just stop the damn advertising already!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuickFox (311231)
      So why don't you buy a Slashdot subscription? Someone has to pay their costs, either you pay yourself by subscribing, or the ads pay for you so you don't have to.

      If you don't accept that there are ads, and you don't want to pay a subscription, who do you expect to pay this for you?
      • Er, except that the ads on /. still show up even if you subscribe and turn them off.
      • What does this have to do with Slashdot subscriptions?

        And you got modded up for that non sequitor?!

    • by saterdaies (842986) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:39AM (#20729693)
      The parent post is brought to you by: Gradma's old-fashioned posts. Remember a time when discussions weren't threaded? Gradma does.
    • by popo (107611)
      Please start paying for content.

      (And stop whining about stuff you want for free).

      • Please start paying for content.

        (And stop whining about stuff you want for free).
        Like cable?

        I would be curious to know how much cable television would cost if it didn't allow the channels to display advertisements.
      • by vux984 (928602)
        Please start paying for content.

        Been there. Done that.

        Buy a magazine - ads
        Rent/Buy a movie - ads
        Go see a movie - ads
        Pay TV - ads
        Buy a news paper - ads
        Satellite radio - ads, not many, but they're creeping in
        Rent/Buy video games - ads, not many, but they're creeping in

        Really, paying for content does not make it ad free, and content providers, even the ones that made 'ad free' part of the proposition eventually succumb and show you ads -- few ads maybe, but capitalism dictates they'll show you just as many ads
  • Or make up your own. At least they'll have to work for it.

    Seriously, though. People that go for this are dumbshits.
    • by rhartness (993048) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:26AM (#20729489)
      Which raises my question, will the receiver of the phone call know that they are being eavesdropped upon? What about their rights? Idiots occasionally call me and I don't want to have to worry about this. BTW, I didn't RTFA. The answer could already be in there.
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      Why are they dumbshits? A computer listens to your conversation and throws up ads. Ever use gmail, because that is exactly what gmail does to your email.
    • by Billosaur (927319) *

      Esperanto anyone?

      • by arivanov (12034)
        The lexical structure and the phonemes are too indoeuropean. There will be a considerably degree of matching. Some of it will be very funny, but there will be a match none the less.
        If you want to confuse this service do what the USA did in WW2 on the Pacific theatre. They did not use codes for a lot of the communications. They drafted Cherokee indians instead. The japanese never managed to decipher that and it all sounded to them like blablah.
    • Igpay Atinla uoldshay ebay oughenay otay oolfay isthay.
      • by idontgno (624372)

        Igpay Atinla uoldshay ebay oughenay otay oolfay isthay.

        Congratulations, you just won 73 screenfuls of auction website advertising!

    • by mmkkbb (816035)
      Surely they would display an ad similar to this one in that case [google.com].
  • Three words. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:19AM (#20729363) Homepage
    Ig-pay atin-lay [google.com].
  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:19AM (#20729375) Journal
    I'd easily consider taking this on (although it seems to suggest that it's only north american numbers, and they probably don't have a linux client...). Still, whilst it is possible (though unlikely) that a human could listen to what you're saying I have to question whether they would actually want to listen to what I'm saying - or if I would care if they are. Granted I'm not going to use this for telephone banking, and probably not even for calling my girlfriend, I really don't care if they listen to my mum talking for half an hour about her dog or hear me arrange a party... or shout down the phone whilst drunk at people about the importance of egalitarianism (but that's another story...)
    • by Xtravar (725372)
      Plus, if people know they're being listened to by party A (advertisers), then they're probably less likely to be wiretapped by party B (NSA) since what they're saying is probably useless information anyway if they already trust party A to listen.

      Which coincidentally brings to mind many ideas about how to mess with this system- some sort of voice encryption algorithm, or even using it as a data modem (?).
  • riight. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:22AM (#20729419)
    I wonder if their software can detect if I dial the speaking clock and leave it off hook?
    http://www.telephonesuk.co.uk/speaking_clock.htm [telephonesuk.co.uk]

    Seriously, this sounds a little intrusive. Voice recognition my ass, I bet there is a clause in their contract stating the call may be recorded for future training, enhancement, fun, profit and any damn reason they like. 'Scuze me while I reach for my phrases and codes book.
  • by straponego (521991) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:24AM (#20729457)
    I don't want to talk to anybody using this service. How can I block them? Do they announce to innocent (called) parties that they're invading your privacy at the beginning of a call?

    Now, consider what scumbags like Comcast could do with this. They bundle phone, cable, and Internet. So they could tweak not just your banner ads, but also your TV ads (using an upgraded on-demand system). And they could use peeping on one service to affect the others. For example, they could change your web ads based on what shows you watch. The only question is whether they think the cost in lawsuits (from other advertisers and customers) would be worth it. Hmm, maybe they can tie it into the DHS "we need retroactive immunity for any crime on the grounds that it would be bad for business for us to be subject to the law" stuff. Obviously the program could service "national security" purposes as well.

    • Do they announce to innocent (called) parties that they're invading your privacy at the beginning of a call?

      In some states, California for instance, if the call is not being monitored or recorded by law enforcement under warrant then both parties must be informed and give their consent to the call being recorded. Usually it is one party or another to the call who is doing the recording, in which case they must notify the other party and receive their consent, but in this case the third party monitoring
    • Heh, maybe this is a sign of how bad things already got, but your nightmare scenario doesn't really scare me very much. I mean, I hate ads, and I hate them because they're a nuisance, not because they tempt me. Your post made me picture a future in which the ads that hit my eyeballs are perfectly targeted based on all my communication data. What would this mean? No more "new season of 24"-induced nausea, no more yeast infection cures, erectile disfunction remedies, no more ads for Kevin Federline.

      So what

  • funny. I just made a call yesterday using this system and suddenly I'm getting ads about weapons, espionage, government contractors...

    wait a sec. Some men in black are knocking on my window. brb.
  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:25AM (#20729483) Journal
    "Didn't you have ads in the twentieth century?"

    "Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio... and in magazines... and movies, and at ballgames, and on buses, and milk cartons, and T-shirts, and bananas, and written in the sky. But not in dreams, no sirree."
  • There's no way to understand every language spoken. Perhaps we should begin learning unusual languages, such as Navajo. It worked in WWII!

    But then watch th EULA for these things. "We limit the right to speak only English on these phones"
    • "We limit the right to speak only English on these phones"

      So this service is not available in Loisiana and Alabama?
  • I've never seen a better reason to start speaking in Ubbi dubbi [wikipedia.org].
    • Opi spopeak "opop", whopich opis opa voparopiopant opof opubbopidopubbopi. Yopou hopave topo(o) bope(e) coparefopul thopough whopen spopeakoping opit opin popublopic. Whopen yopou opare scopopoping opout bopabes whopo(o) opare opin lopistopenoping dopistopance, youou copan gopet opin tropoubople opif thopey spopeak opop topoo.
  • Advertising Content is a commodity. That is not the concern.

    What I wonder what the law says about computer-based eavesdropping? If a crime is plotted or committed over this line, does it make the software complicit?

    So it doesn't record the whole conversation but merely responds to voice triggers for pushing ad content, are there triggers for words like murder, crime, assassination, or vice? And what about other languages?

    Hoo-boy, welcome to the litigious states of america. I don't think this company has

  • It'll fail. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:29AM (#20729533)
    Interestingly, during tests, "conversations [were] actually changing based on what was on the screen,"

    Of course: DURING TESTS. The sole purpose of the test is to test what they're testing, so it's the subject of interest without any magic required. How about influencing a real world call, emergent call, bad news call, good news call. Anything-else-than-playing-with-the-system call.

    And their scheme has a flaw: I can keep talking with my screen turned off. Their advertisers better be dumb enough not to figure out that one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      They'll switch over to a
      "Your free seconds have expired, please praise the product displayed on your screen to continue this call"
      format soon enough.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      How about influencing a real world call, emergent call

      911 operator: "911 what is your emergency?"
      Female voice: "Oh my god lady you have to help me, I heard a noise-"
      911 operator: "Are you in your house?"
      Female voice: "Yes I'm in my study and there was a sound like a broken window hey look I can upgrade to Vista for just $99-"
      911 operator: "Police are on the way, can I confirm your address?"
      Female voice: "Yes I live on 123 Elm Street oh neat I didn't know Domino's delivered here"
      911 operator: "Are you alone
  • Great! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WilyCoder (736280)
    Great! What's preventing me from turning off my monitor after the call connects?
    • by deniable (76198)
      Curiosity or novelty?
    • by gauauu (649169)
      More the fact that you don't care. If you are talking on the phone, your primary attention is on the conversation, and you don't care what appears on your screen. But we all know that advertising works by having brand awareness enter your general consciousness. So the related items appearing on the screen in front of you will be useful but non-intrusive advertising. Like highway billboards...you don't have to look at them, but (in moderation), they aren't really obtrusive like TV ads are.
  • by deniable (76198) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:31AM (#20729581)
    It's like Echelon got drunk and woke up next to a spam-bot. Man, that's an ugly child.
  • by popo (107611) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:32AM (#20729597) Homepage
    I'm not letting anyone profit off *my* communications.

    What's next? Free comment-sections on websites? ... as long as I log in?

    How could anyone subject themselves to such a sacrifice of personal liberties.
  • This just wreaks of NSA, CIA, Stazi, KGB...
  • this is it just to see what ads come up.
  • I can already make calls without having to pay toll, and I dont have to use my computer or a proprietary system to connect to it. What possible use would this be to me?

    I predict the imminent demise of the entire concept of 'long distance' and tolls.

    Hopefully soon 'per minute' charging (regardless of wether its a flat rate for x-thousand minutes, or a meter running with post-use billing) for cell airtime will die too.
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday September 24, 2007 @11:38AM (#20729673) Homepage
    ...would never use this service, and while I despise ads as much as the next person, I don't quite get what all the fuss is over. You KNOW that they are recording your phone call, they tell you everything up front, you get free phone service...yes, you have to look at ads, but hey! At least they are pertinent to you and yours.

    If I have to see advertisements everywhere, I don't want to see shit for Viagra or a low mortgage rate...I want to see ads for video games, horror movies, fetish stores, and computer equipment.

    Seriously, there is no way to escape advertisement (yes, I know there is AdBlock and NoScript), so why not at least have advertisements that you would be at least REMOTELY interested in? Target audience and all that... If Comcast knew what kind of products I was interested in and I got to see ads for only those type of products while watching what little TV I watch, I would be much less inclined to leave the room or fast forward on Tivo. Instead, I get stuck with commercials for tampons and "beer" (i.e. watered down piss...I love being from and living in the USA, but christ we have NO tatse in beer)
    • Hmm. Thanks to Netflix, uTorrent, and AdBlock, I haven't seen an ad in *months*! While a free cell-phone sounds attractive, and even if i could stand to watch some targeted ads, I don't trust or want to run their proprietary ad software on my computer, and I don't trust the long term availability of their service. Much like how I have my email on a long-term provider like gmail, instead of trusting it to my local isp.
    • >I love being from and living in the USA, but christ we have NO tatse in beer

      If tatse is *anything* like goatse, I'm really glad we don't have it in beer. Even if it's like tsetse, I'm *still* glad it's not in our beer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pimpimpim (811140)
      One point is, does the person on the other end of the line know that the conversation is 'voluntarily wire-tapped'?
  • So they don't need to do wire taps, they don't need warrants they just need to give every one free phone service. And of course any one who'd doesn't use their free service must have something to hide and must therefor be a terrorist!!!!!!!!! Maybe even a terrorist in possession of breadboards, batteries, LEDs and Playdoh.
  • It's a real relief that the ads won't change based on what you're thinking...
  • Till now, I've never seen the point in multiple desktops. Finally, I think I've found a use for them. Free phone call displaying ads on one I'm not looking at, work on the other. Eat me, advertisers.
  • Now where did I put my bottle of Haldol?
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday September 24, 2007 @12:16PM (#20730187)
    They want to rely on voice recognition software? Well then I guess it will be a good deal, since that stuff doesn't work worth a damn. More interestingly, what does voice recognition software do when it identifies a threat to US persons, which, under US signals laws, would require reporting? What happens if their voice recognition software doesn't catch a specific threat? I think (hope) liability alone will put this model under.
  • How did these people see the advertisements with the phone up to their ear ?

    Did they get people second hand from government testing to try this out or somthing ?
  • If I am on the phone and want something, I will seek out the best of what there is through research - I will pay NO attention to advertising that TELLS me what I should or should not want. There is a difference between non-intrusive (sometimes entertaining) advertising in (say) print magazines where one gets to learn about something new - perhaps in a field one would not have discovered without the ad - and the opposite of having unwanted information shoved in ones face in a manner that makes assumptions ab
  • by sunderland56 (621843) on Monday September 24, 2007 @01:15PM (#20731125)
    So, if someone listens in on your phone calls, then they pay for them?

    So why aren't all of our calls paid for by the US Government, then?

  • I mean, it COULD be bad for your front door when you discuss where to better deposit the bomb so those pesky anti-terrors can't find it in time.

    The worst thing is that I could see this succeed. People don't care jack about anything, and certainly not their privacy, if they could somehow save a few cents.
  • Cool!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phoenixwade (997892) on Monday September 24, 2007 @01:35PM (#20731421)
    A service specifically designed for the "I have nothing to hide, so I don't care if they wiretap" people!

    Now I just need to figure out if someone I know is using the service....... So I can sell them a Bridge........

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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