Your smartphone's battery level could be used to track you online

By admin
08 August 2016

The loophole no one told you about.

The loophole no one told you about.

We live in a technological age where one's privacy is becoming increasingly difficult to guard.

From cookies to malware, there seems to be endless ways you can be tracked online.

Now even your battery status betrays your privacy.

According to a study conducted at Stanford University, the latest privacy beach can be traced to the HTML5 Battery Status API, a system that is intended to allow websites to provide low-power versions when a user's battery is running low.

In other words, the system grants servers access to the user's battery level information - how long it will take for it to die and how long it will take to charge completely once it is plugged in to a power outlet.

But as Princeton security experts Steve Engelhard and Arvind Narayanan have now warned, this information could also be used to track web users' online habits.

As a result, this unique 'digital footprint' allows websites to target users with "specific personalized ads, promotions and products".

"Some companies may be analysing the possibility of monetising the access to battery levels," predicted Lukasz Olejnik in 2015.

What's even worse is that this feature could also be used to manipulate your spending habits.

"When battery is running low, people might be prone to some - otherwise different - decisions. In such circumstances, users will agree to pay more for a service."

As a case in point, few months ago, online transportation company Uber's head of economic research Keith Chen, told NPR that users are willing to pay up to to 9.9 times the usual rate if their phone's battery life is dying.

"One of the strongest predictors of whether or not you're going to be sensitive to surge... is how much battery you have left on your cellphone," explained Keith.

"We absolutely don't use that to push you a higher surge price, but it's an interesting psychological fact of human behaviour."


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