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The Privacy Is In The Pudding (Or Not)

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There are so many obvious cliché puns just sitting there, grinning like toads: if you don’t eat your meat…; the proof is in the…; $240 worth of…Pudding. What pudding has to do with telephony services is unclear, except that Pudding Media has started a conversation about how far is too far when it comes to targeted advertising.


According to the website, where you can sign up to use ThePudding beta (God, what ridiculous phrases this job has me typing ;-D), ThePudding allows unlimited free calls to any phone in North America, directly from a web browser, using "a breakthrough technology that makes your conversations fun and interesting."

As Silicon Ally Insider’s Henry Blodget notes, they don’t really mention what that breakthrough technology does.

The New York Times sheds light:

The trade-off is that Pudding Media is eavesdropping on phone calls in order to display ads on the screen that are related to the conversation. Voice recognition software monitors the calls, selects ads based on what it hears and pushes the ads to the subscriber’s computer screen while he or she is still talking.

Oh.

I can kind of see why you guys left that out. I wouldn’t sign up if I knew that, either.

Ariel Maislos, CEO of Pudding Media, compares the technology to what Google does with Gmail (which nobody’s sure they’re entirely comfortable with still) and says that privacy traded for personalized content is a tradeoff the world is ready to accept.

And judging by recent moves by certain government agencies around here (I’m looking at you, DOJ and NSA), if you’ll forgive my Orwellian paranoia, that tradeoff is something the watchmen are just aching for us to make, too. 

The Privacy Is In The Pudding (Or Not)
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