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"We did this research to better understand the privacy risks with online advertising.There's a fundamental tension that as advertisers become more capable of targeting and tracking people to deliver better ads, there's also the opportunity for adversaries to begin exploiting that additional precision.Someone who wants to surveil a person's movements first needs to learn the mobile advertising ID (MAID) for the target's mobile phone.These unique identifiers that help marketers serve ads tailored to a person's interests are sent to the advertiser and a number of other parties whenever a person clicks on a mobile ad.She filled out a questionnaire and carefully crafted her profile.It would have been easy to burnish the truth, but she presented herself honestly, from her age (57) and hobbies ("dancing, rock collecting") to her financial status ("self sufficient"). Now she was all by herself in a house secluded at the end of a long gravel driveway. At first, she just tiptoed around the many dating sites, window-shopping in this peculiar new marketplace. It wasn't until the fall that Amy was ready to dive in.

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A short message sent on a Thursday evening in early December 2013, under the subject line: Match? She signed up for a six-month subscription to, the largest and one of the oldest dating services on the Web.

The picture — outdoor photo, big smile — was real, and recent.

And her pitch was straightforward: Looking for a life partner …

The team found that a target needed to stay in one location for roughly four minutes before an ad was served, which is why no red dots appear along the individual's bus commute (dashed line) or walking route (solid line.) Credit: University of Washington But could someone use mobile advertising to learn where you go for coffee?

Could a burglar establish a sham company and send ads to your phone to learn when you leave the house?

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