September 25, 2007 | By Richard Esguerra turns your VoIP calls into ad-serving keywords

The Associated Press reports on the beta website, which is offering users "free" voice over IP (VoIP) calls, with an invasive catch -- it uses voice-recognition software to serve you ads based on the conversation you're having. In some ways, it can be likened to Google scanning your Gmail messages for keywords used to send you targeted advertisements.

Having a computer sift through your VoIP call is eerie, and unfortunately, the reach of voice-recognition-seeded advertising may not be limited to's site.'s operator, Pudding Media, seeks to license its speech-recognition capabilities to other service providers, including mobile carriers and Internet telephony services. Imagine a scenario in which your own phone company licenses the Pudding Media platform and uses it to mine your calls for valuable personal information. They could use that information within the conglomerate to sell you other goods and services, or they could turn around and sell that information to the highest bidder -- either way, your "private" conversations become a commodity.

Perhaps the most chilling implication of this "service" is its potential impact on your constitutional right to privacy in your phone calls. Fourth Amendment protections against government eavesdropping rely on your having a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in your calls, something you'll arguably be trading away by using's VoIP service. The government can and likely will argue -- as it has argued when it comes to your Gmail, in the case of U.S. v. Warshak -- that allowing a company to scan your communications for ad-serving purposes eliminates any Fourth Amendment privacy protections in those communications. Far from being "free", you may be paying for's service with your constitutional rights.

Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Look out weekend! Check out the cross-platform video games in Humble Indie Bundle 15 & support EFF's work:

Oct 9 @ 4:58pm

The leaked TPP IP chapter reveals how negotiators have caved to Hollywood demands and betrayed Internet users.

Oct 9 @ 4:30pm

One more California victory for privacy! @JerryBrownGov vetoed bill to put RFID chips in driver licenses:

Oct 9 @ 4:20pm
JavaScript license information