Posted by Virus Bulletin on Jul 18, 2007
Ads could be targeted at users based on local system data.
Microsoft has filed a patent application for a new method of targeting advertising, using information on the contents of a local computer rather than interactions with the web.
While most current advertising relies on watching an individual's web browsing habits, selecting the type of ads to show them based on the type of sites they visit, the system proposed by Microsoft would analyse a user's computer to gather data from documents, emails, downloaded media content and even system settings, which would then be used to create a more accurate picture of the type of person using the machine - and the type of advertising most likely to appeal to them.
The vast amount of personal data such a system would have access to, and the potential for abuse of that data once it leaves the relative security of a local machine, has worried many observers, and the patent has been dubbed 'the mother of all adware systems' (in this article from ars technica).