A product called Echo, created by Israel-based company Rayzone Group, uses information that was intended for marketers to help authorities track people through their cell phones.
By leveraging ad data, such as users’ physical location and browsing habits, Echo has become a powerful surveillance tool for governments worldwide. Echo is described as a virtually impossible technology to avoid or turn off, raising concerns about privacy violations, Bloomberg reports.
Echo is one of the first known commercially available surveillance systems to utilize ad data in this way. Rayzone Group markets the product as an effective tool to fight “terrorism and crime”. However, the company is very secretive about the details of Echo and does not mention the service on its website.
Google, one of the biggest players in the ad market, has commented on the situation, saying that it cannot identify any exchange between its Authorized Buyers ad tool and the Echo monitoring product. A Google spokesperson pointed out that company policy prohibits identifying people based on their ad data.