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Verizon Files Creepy Spying Television Patent

December 7, 2012 by  

Verizon Files Creepy Spying Television Patent

The telecom giant Verizon has filed a patent for a cable television box that would use sensors to monitor what costumers are doing in their homes and how they are behaving as they view television programing in order to target audiences with more specific advertisements.

In a patent filing, Verizon outlines a set-top box that would use a depth sensor, an image sensor, an audio sensor and a thermal sensor to determine what people are doing while they watch television.

“If detection facility detects one or more words spoken by a user (e.g. while talking to another user within the same room or on the telephone), advertising facility may utilize the one or more words spoken by the user to search for and/or select an advertisement associated with the one or more words,” Verizon wrote in its application.

The technology would also allow the company to know how the inhabitants of the home were interacting with one another. For instance, a couple watching a romantic program while cuddling on the couch could be recognized by the set and targeted for ads for contraceptives or romantic getaways.

The company would also be able to find out whether a user is “eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, playing a musical instrument, performing any other suitable action, and/or engaging in any other physical activity during the presentation of the media content,” according to the patent.

While the technology raises major privacy concerns and brings to mind notions of the all-seeing telescreens in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, Verizon said its customers have no need to worry.

“Verizon has a well-established track record of respecting its customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information. As a company that prizes innovation, Verizon takes pride in its innovators whose work is represented in our patents and patent applications. While we do not comment on pending patent applications, such futuristic patent filings by innovators are routine, and whatever we might do in the future would be in line with our well-established track record of respecting our customers’ privacy and protecting their personal information,” it said in a statement.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Gary L.

    There are probably devices similar to this already spying on us every day.

    • Robert Smith

      Just put a piece of duct tape over the sensor.


    • TeaParty Patriot (TPP)

      The next step will be that homeland security, the FBI, CIA or another government agency will demand that these snoopings be recorded and held AND that they be made available to police departments for ten years . Don’t believe it. They have already demanded that all text messages be recorded and made available for ten years. and the recording companies meekly said “In what format do you want them recorded.”

      • JC

        I don’t believe they actually have the technology to “monitor” much of anything with a DVR.
        I should think that the necessary algorithms to detect you behaviour would be amazingly complex and not something that can be reproduced on a massive scale.
        I think Verizon has simply filed a patent as a long term fishing trip. If anyone comes up with a viable DVR appliance that can be cheaply mass produced, and can monitor and record your everyday conversation and habits within your home, Verizon can claim it was theirs in the first place and sue for copyright infringements.
        I still don’t need one in my house though…I’m too busy anyway.

  • Thomas

    I hope they continue to take pride in their innovators when customers flee in droves.

    • Gary L.

      Who wants to be spied on? Verizon must be stupid.

      • Nancy in Nebraska

        They’re not stupid. They just know what is coming. Read “1984″ by George Orwell. It’s already been written about! When the government starts monitoring our every move, Verizon will make a killing. Most of what’s in the book has already come to pass, this is just the next thing. We should really refuse televisions altogether. But that’ll never happen.

      • Vicki

        IN the book not only were televisions required but any attempt to cover the sensors would get you a visit from the royal guard.

  • Brad Stockinger

    They don’t have the right. That’s over the top to generate sales for advertise. Greed out of control.

    • TeaParty Patriot (TPP)

      Your objection is irrelevant. Check what they have done with twitter text messaging.
      The Affirmative Action occupier of the white house has decreed that text messaging is no longer private.
      The next step will be that homeland security, the FBI, CIA or another government agency will demand that these snoopings be recorded and held AND that they be made available to police departments for ten years . Don’t believe it. They have already demanded that all text messages be recorded and made available for ten years. and the recording companies meekly said “In what format do you want them recorded.”

    • TeaParty Patriot (TPP)


      No longer private EXCEPT for ‘rat government officials, and then you can not even get access to them under the Freedom of Information Act.

      ALL your posts to these comment sections are permanently recorded and available to the government.

    • Vigilant

      I think you’ll find they will have a perfect right to do precisely that.

      If you read the fine print in the contract, you will give them that right when you sign on. Don’t sign the contract and you won’t get the cable service.

      Very simple really.

      And in this Jerry Springer, Facebook and Twitter age, where people glorify in divulging all their personal details, not many will refuse to sign that contract.

      • JC

        Yup, and I’ll bet that you won’t sign, and I won’t sign. ;)

      • Vigilant

        JC, you are correct sir!

  • Milktoast

    Its just another Big Fed way of getting into your privacy at all times. Also, Cars will be mandated to have “Black Boxes” installed from here on out so get ready for the Mileage Tax. All will already be in play for it to take place. And it’s not about mileage or road tax it’s about control.

  • DOUG

    Here, Verizon is bragging about their privacy rules at the same time they are slyly sharing with you how they are going to invade your privacy! Hypocrasy at work again…everywhere you turn there is double-speak!

    • Vigilant

      They’re NOT invading your privacy if you sign the cable contract.

  • Hedgehog

    Simple solution, don’t watch television, I don’t! I watch all my news and get my entertainment via computer. If Verizon or anyone else can extract any useful information from the mixture of ancient and quasi modern technology I use, then they deserve what they get, dinosaur excrement!

    • got my licence

      New computers have cameras and there is on right to privacy on the net. You may already be watched. Your cell phone has tracking and can locate you. At one time if we were told that our every movement was to be monitored we would have chased them to the ocean with pitch forks and torches. But now we line up and pay for these devices while being told it is all for convenience. The watchers tell us if you are doing nothing wrong then you have nothing to fear, but who determins what is wrong.

      • Hedgehog

        My Computers are old, obsolete, neither has a web camera. None of my stuff is less than 5 years old, including my cell phone. In fact if the analog system was still up I’d use an old Motorola. I get given this stuff by people who are going to throw it out anyway.

      • JC

        Having nothing to hide is no reason for us to let them get away with it.
        We are NOT subject to invasions of our privacy under any circumstances.
        Especially not the phony secutrity issues invented to create more control over We The Sheeple. Stand up and raise your middle finger towards the White House. :)

  • Bill

    The Verizon corp are f’ing liars

  • RichE

    Oh, I could have fun with this, two TVs facing each other, one tuned to MSNBC and the other FOX.

    • Vigilant

      LOL! It’ll melt down like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.”

    • Chester

      Sounds good, but remember, there HAS to be a warm body in the viewable space for the machines to react to. Two tvs talking to each other doesn’t bring the warm, moving, breathing human body into the picture at all, thus would fail to record anything.

      • Vicki

        Even LED tvs generate heat. The trick is to make it enough

      • Gypsy

        Warm body? Would a ferret do?

      • RichE

        Do you think my blow-up-doll would spoof the bio feedback? She’s really hot!

  • Dan Mancuso

    ‘Creepy’ doesn’t come close to describing this! Why anybody, except the brain dead sheeple,still watch TV is beyond me…

  • Chester

    Incidentally, this is essentially OLD news, as Verizon filed that patent 18 months or more ago. Also, they are only the latest, as there are at least two others already filed.


    The want to intrude and then give that power to government is becoming untenable, intrusive and malicious…WTP had better get back to our founding and make sure we can survive as a free nation….

  • mark

    i dont have cable or dish ive got just the outside ant .i took the box apart before i hooked it up to my tv . because i had my supicion about are crookit gov for a long time . they are like cockroches they can come in from anywere at anytime they want to .that is very unconstoion verizon an any body has any thing as ungodly as this should be put in jail . that foot needs to be crushed before it makes it in the door.their are some realy sick idiots out their.

  • MNIce

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated …” United States Constitution, Amendment IV.

    This amendment restricts the behavior of corporations and individuals as well as government. I have no right to sneak a camera or microphone into my neighbor’s house, nor is it reasonable for me to demand he permit their installation as a condition of providing a service, unless the service cannot be provided without the use of the camera and microphone (e. g., monitor the behavior of the dog while the neighbors are gone for the day). If I do not have this right, neither does a corporation, and certainly not the government.

  • SJJolly

    Anyone stupid enough to buy a TV with the proposed Verizon spy technology in it DESERVES the frequent visits by police, Child Protective Services, DEA, INS, IRS, and God-knows-what-all other agencies sure to follow!


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