Cookies Are The Past; Your Phone’s Sensors Are Letting Companies Track You

With cookies blocked, sensor tracking is the future

Since Google finally decided to do away with third-party cookies, advertisers and companies can now track you from your phone’s sensors. In an interview with Abhishek Sen, NumberEight cofounder, Wired brought up the topic. It is now reported that sensors on your phones, like the accelerometer and the magnetometer, are the next-big-thing.

Currently, advertisers use cookies from your browser to learn your preferences and show personalized ads. As mentioned above, cookies will shortly be a thing of the past as Google and Apple are taking user privacy more seriously now. While Apple requires websites to ask for your consent before accessing cookies, Google has also said goodbye to third-party cookies.

Phone Sensors Can Track You

Google chrome will also be blocking cookies, sensor tracking is the next big thing

As technology is evolving, we’re seeing more sensors in an overall compact package. Today, your phone has an accelerometer that knows when you’re walking/running/driving and a magnetometer that knows which direction you’re pointing, precise GPS location, and much more.

While these sensors give our devices the flexibility to keep up with our usage, they’re also a gateway for trackers. A report from Wired says that companies are ready to use your phone’s sensors to determine who you are and show personalized ads.

Abhishek Sen, co-founder of NumberEight, a UK-based ‘contextual intelligence’ startup, told about the use of phone sensors to track people. According to him, your phone’s accelerometer can help companies profile you based on what time you wake up (When you first pick up the phone after a long rest).

Your phone’s sensors can be used to tell whether you’re sitting, walking, jogging, or commuting in a vehicle. Based on your activity and maybe even location, companies will be able to tailor the content for you.

Sen gave the example of a music company being able to change recommendations based on your movement. It means you’ll get different music when you’re seated, a different playlist for when you’re jogging, and a completely different one for when you’re commuting.

NumberEight along with other companies like Sentiance use data from your phone’s sensor to categorize users. The categories may include people who wake up early, joggers, and people who commute long distances.

He added that behavioral context will lead the way in a climate of tightening regulations and public scrutiny.

What are Cookies?

The first thing that comes to mind with cookies is a sweet treat. On the internet though, a cookie is a packet of data. Also called an HTTP cookie, your browser receives it when you open a website.

This data packet then sits in your ‘cookies’ file in the browser. There are different types of cookies on the internet. First, we have session cookies, which disappear when you close a site. Then comes the tracking cookies that keep a record of your visits to a particular website. As the name suggests, it’s the tracking cookies that tell the companies what you’re up to.

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