Google Meets the NSA

By Deane Barker on September 4, 2006

Google developing eavesdropping software: This has got to be a hoax. I can’t imagine anything more horror-inducing among privacy activists.

The idea is to use the existing PC microphone to listen to whatever is heard in the background, be it music, your phone going off or the TV turned down. The PC then identifies it, using fingerprinting, and then shows you relevant content, whether that’s adverts or search results, or a chat room on the subject.

Should this turn out to be true, the negative PR would be something to behold.



  1. Although I tend to agree that this isn’t serious, there are some interesting possibilities if it turned out to be true. Imagine some basic voice commands for searching on Google. Or an easy way to identify that song on the radio :-)

  2. Wasn’t there a report a while back that Google has developed a technology to find out which TV program you are watching and then offering context sensitive background information (and advertising). I don’t know where I read it (probably on WebmasterWorld), but it said the PC mic is used for this.

  3. This goes along with what Joesph said:

    I remember seeing a gadget in Wired a while back that you used to record yourself humming a song. When you docked the gadget to your PC, it ID’ed the song for you. Anyone ever hear of this?

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