WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- The Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters to app developers using Silverpush, software that monitors a device's microphone to better understand consumer buying habits.
Silverpush is embedded software in some apps that monitor consumers' television use through the use of "audio beacons" emitted by televisions. The sound is inaudible but can be detected by the software.
"These apps were capable of listening in the background and collecting information about consumers without notifying them," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Companies should tell people what information is collected, how it is collected, and who it's shared with."
Silverpush can be running even if the consumer doesn't know it, the FTC said.
"Running silently in the background even if the person isn't using the app, the technology could allow Silverpush to generate a log of a person's TV viewing that could be used for ad targeting or analytics," said Leslie Fair, an FTC attorney.
Silverpush said no television shows in the United States use the software.