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Apple Patents Bank Account Balance Snooping Tech 133

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's latest patent filings shows that the company is looking into displaying advertising based on your available bank balance. If Apple moves forward with this type of technology it would be a complete 360 on its previous direction to not monetize everything they know about customers. Tim Cook has even said multiple times that companies are targeting consumers on multiple fronts and that he's completely against using customer information in this manner and it's not the kind of company he wants Apple to be.
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Apple Patents Bank Account Balance Snooping Tech

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:45PM (#50140205)

    Seriously.

    • Freudian slip.
      • by Sun ( 104778 )

        A Freudian slip is when you mean one thing but say your mother.
        - Anonymous

        Shachar

    • The summary got the geometry right, forgot to mention Tim Cook has started moonwalking everywhere.
    • by alexhs ( 877055 )

      360 degrees is not what you think it is

      Maybe it is !
      And with the reporting spin, it amounts to 540 degrees !
      Plus, the submitter didn't mention degrees (or it has been eaten by slashcode, see: "°" : ""). Maybe it's 360 half-degrees ? There's no way to know as TFA doesn't mention it.

      Don’t worry, this service is opt-in so if the idea of a giant snooping around your bank makes you uneasy, you don’t have to comply.

      See ? Not that bad.

      It’s worth noting that this is just a patent, it’s unclear when or if Apple will bring this service into the market or if the actual service will reflect the suggested wording within said patent.

      And it's actually a wild speculation.

      BTW, can someone tell me how this is promoting "the Progress of Science and useful Arts" ?

      • Don’t worry, this service is opt-in so if the idea of a giant snooping around your bank makes you uneasy, you don’t have to comply.

        See ? Not that bad.

        When you say "you don't have to comply", what you're really saying is you don't have to buy an iPhone.

        It’s worth noting that this is just a patent, it’s unclear when or if Apple will bring this service into the market or if the actual service will reflect the suggested wording within said patent.

        And it's actually a wild speculation.

        "Wil

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @02:07PM (#50140611)

          Companies patent stuff all the time, often as a defensive measure. Outrage should be reserved for what companies actually do. There is no indication that Apple is implementing this idea.

          Also, the actual patent [uspto.gov], does not mention your "bank account", only your available credit.

          • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @03:05PM (#50140857)
            I checked out the patent.....

            Aaaaaaannnnd What the fuck?

            So to put it mildly, the article is 100 percent Bullshit, a fucking lie, yet will be held as gospel truth by Apple haters.

            This article needs taken down now, It is not factual, and the patent is for available credit, not bank account balance. there is a huie difference in both availability and ethics.

            Thank you Shanghai Bill, for exposing the truth in the increasingly clickbaitish and not at all concerned with actual truth, Slashdot.

            6 Weeks of shame on you Samzenpus. So were you lying, or just performing the worst fact checking since people made up shit ot get Pulitzer prizes?

            • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples&gmail,com> on Sunday July 19, 2015 @03:33PM (#50140985) Homepage Journal

              the patent is for available credit, not bank account balance.

              I thought if you were to query "available credit" on a debit card, you'd get the balance of the checking account it draws from.

              • the patent is for available credit, not bank account balance.

                I thought if you were to query "available credit" on a debit card, you'd get the balance of the checking account it draws from.

                Not unless a debit card becomes credit. The money on a debit card is money you already have.

                • by tepples ( 727027 )

                  My reasoning is that "amount available to spend" on a debit card is how much money you have, and "amount available to spend" on a credit card is your credit limit.

                  • "My reasoning is that "amount available to spend" on a debit card is how much money you have, and "amount available to spend" on a credit card is your credit limit."

                    Wrong, I'm afraid. My UK bank account provides me with an automatic overdraft limit, plus an 'emergency' short-term (high interest) excess overdraft. So when I go shopping with my debit card the 'amount available to spend' includes the unused portion of my overdraft limit.

            • by Cederic ( 9623 )

              his article needs taken down now, It is not factual, and the patent is for available credit, not bank account balance. there is a huie difference in both availability and ethics.

              A fucking shiny toy manufacturer wants to find out your available credit and use it to target ways of getting you to part with it, and you think that's substantively from using your bank balance?

              You complete fucking muppet.

              • his article needs taken down now, It is not factual, and the patent is for available credit, not bank account balance. there is a huie difference in both availability and ethics.

                A fucking shiny toy manufacturer wants to find out your available credit and use it to target ways of getting you to part with it, and you think that's substantively from using your bank balance?

                You complete fucking muppet.

                Ummm - my credit line is not at all related to my bank balance, or my investments. Two or three completely separate, unrelated numbers. Ironically, since I pay off my credit card bill every month, my available credit is substantially less than most of the intelligent people who tend to make convenient minimum monthly payments. There was never a need to raise it.

                You do know that every time you use your credit card it is checked against what your credit limit, which is your available line of credit, don't

                • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                  Thanks for telling people that haven't worked for credit card companies or banks what a credit line is. I already knew.

                  Now try telling us why it's so ethically different a financial attribute on which to base advertising than a bank balance.

                  • p>Now try telling us why it's so ethically different a financial attribute on which to base advertising than a bank balance.

                    Sorry, I'm a:

                    You complete fucking muppet.

                    You don't play nice with others, so look it up yourself. I have no obligation to deal with the Visigoths, Cedric.

                    There is a difference.

                    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

                      I see that you're living up to the description I gave you, by failing miserably to have any rationale or logic to your complete nonsense.

                      But don't go getting Cedric involved, he gets enough of my email already.

                • Ummm - my credit line is not at all related to my bank balance, or my investments. Two or three completely separate, unrelated numbers.

                  Separate, yes; unrelated, not so much. I hypothesize that not many people with $300 in their bank account have a $250K line of credit, for example.

                  We advertise based on bank account and related value metrics all the time, of course. The specific information might be protected to some extent by laws, but the media kit for most good advertising mediums gives you income and net worth type information about your target audience.

                  Obviousness rejection, anyone? Still, we're not very good about those.

                • Your credit card company works very differently from mine. I did the same thing with paying off what I owed every month instead of keeping a balance. As a result my credit limit kept being raised. Now it probably helped that I did make a few expensive purchases along the way (no more than a few thousand dollars) but I paid those off right away, as I've always been a believer in buying something only when you actually have the money in hand. I suspect if I had just used the card to buy little things and pa
            • The patent does specifically say that it covers accessing a bank account (34. the user's account provided by... a bank).

              The available credit of a bank account would be your bank balance plus overdraft facility, not your credit card's lending limit.

              [0031] In one embodiment of the invention, the delivery element 32 of the advertisement management system 14 is arranged to analyze the user's available credit in order to assess the likelihood of a user being able to purchase advertised goods and/or services. The available credit may be provided by the billing system 26, i.e., from the user's account maintained by the billing system, 26, or from a credit extending system or facility 34, from the user's account provided by the credit extending facility 34. the credit extending facility 34 may be a bank or credit card company . Alternatively, the available credit can be provided to the delivery element 32 in a batch type of database action, i.e., delivered periodically and stored in a database of the advertisement management system 14.

            • This article needs taken down now, It is not factual, and the patent is for available credit, not bank account balance. there is a huie difference in both availability and ethics.

              It's largely the same thing in practical terms, the bank account Apple can query is accessible either as a credit card (available credit) or as a debit card using the VISA, MasterCard, Citi, etc. systems where the "available credit" is the balance of the account the card is linked to.

          • Yup. They're probably working on a separate patent for your "bank account". That way they can license one or the other or both to interested parties.
          • Now filing patent on process of using evil software to collect any information from victims generally referred to as customers to be used for the purpose of monetizing supposedly free services or for extracting additional revenue from existing paying victims AKA customers.

            License fee for tech companies, ten dollars per user.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Yes, exactly. It is possible that Apple applied for a patent on this technology to prevent it being used by anyone, at least for the life of the patent.

          Then, again, if times get tough, it can always be monetized.

        • by alexhs ( 877055 )

          Your biases are showing :)

          When you say "you don't have to comply", what you're really saying is you don't have to buy an iPhone.

          I didn't say, I was quoting the article, that is probably also guessing on that point, because they don't give any source for that allegation.
          My point was that the summary asserted that if Apple were to implement this patent, it would be a U-turn for them, when the article doesn't state as much.
          Your allegation is also a biased speculation, especially as buying an Android or a Windows phone is unlikely to protect you, which gets us to the second point.

          "Wild speculation" that a company that has filed a patent for a technology has some intention on monetizing that technology.

          Large companies are patenting

    • Well, if you enter a roundabout, go all the way around (360 degrees) and exit again, you are going back to where you came from.

      Just being an idiot's advocate here ;-)

    • I took it as a subtle dig at everyone who believed apple when they said "we're collecting all this data but we're not going to weaponise it against you".

      It's a 360 degree turn to right where they were obviously always heading.

    • We're gonna turn this team around 360 degrees

      -- Jason Kidd.

      So you're gonna spin around and get dizzy and still accomplish nothing

      -- Me

  • by slickwillie ( 34689 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:46PM (#50140217)

    So they are back to where they started?

  • I read it not as reading your bank account, but as having access to your prepaid credit for the phone bill. Isn't that already a feature accessible for prepaid phone ? I may have misread naturally.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well sort of
      #123# or some sort ussd code. might change from network to network.

      however, one thing is certain, it's only going to show that you're a cheapskate(because of using prepaid)!

      also, even if you're not a cheapskate, you're not really going to have more than ten bucks loaded into your prepaid anyways likely.

      so.. the whole concept of using your prepaid balance to decide which adverts to show for you seems rather dull.

  • then Google can't use this technique. Personally, I hope Apple gets more similar patents. Because unlike Google, Apple has promised not to sell my info to advertisers. Worst case, Apple breaks their promise and becomes as bad as Google.

    • That's a fair point. It very much feels like patent abuse to obtain if the sole purpose is to deny the technique to competitors but this is the good that comes with the bad of having such lax patent awarding requirements.
      • That's a fair point. It very much feels like patent abuse to obtain if the sole purpose is to deny the technique to competitors ...

        Pardon me for being Captain Obvious here, but that is exactly what patents are intended to do! Patent confers intellectual property rights to the patent holder. What that patent holder chooses to (legally) do with those rights is completely up to the holder.

        Haven't you ever heard the conspiracy theories about stuff like Goodyear buying the patent for a 100,000 mile tire? Or GM buying the patent for a 100 mpg car? Or the best yet, the Gubment buying patents to keep technologies out of the private sector?

        • Haven't you ever heard the conspiracy theories about stuff like Goodyear buying the patent for a 100,000 mile tire? Or GM buying the patent for a 100 mpg car?

          How old are those theories? If they're more than 20 years old, then they should be running into one key difference between patents and copyrights: Unlike copyrights, patents expire.

        • FRAND says 'Hi!'. Not all patents are allowed to be unilaterally controlled by their holders.
    • by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @01:30PM (#50140455) Journal

      Why is it even idea even patentable? It invents nothing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You do know Apple also has their own Ad agency right? That on iOS you HAVE to use their Ad agency to put ads in your apps. They are already selling your info and have been for a long time.

      • There's a difference between 'having their own Ad agency' and 'selling information'. Do you have anything to back up your claim that the Apple Ad agency is selling data?

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          If you look at the Visio diagram in the patent document you'll see.

          • The patent says that data could be sold. It's a substantial leap to say that Apple is currently selling data (independent of this patent.)

        • Do you have anything to back up your claim that the Apple Ad agency is selling data?

          Do you have anything to back up your claim that Google is selling data?

          This is actually a real question--not entirely facetious.

          It's my understanding that Google doesn't sell your data--it's actually pretty valuable stuff. They sell access to you, much like Apple does with iAd.

    • Because unlike Google, Apple has promised not to sell my info to advertisers.

      Both Apple and Google don't sell eyeballs. They rent them out. That is far more lucrative that way.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:52PM (#50140249)

    There are multiple reasons why one wants to obtain a patent, including denying competitors use.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @12:53PM (#50140257)

    Read the actual patent, it's talking about available credit, not your actual bank balance. The only times banks are mentioned is in reference to them being a potential source of credit.

    • So not much use for the under 25 demographic that doesn't use their phone as a phone.

      I've got unlimited data, why the hell would I care about the rest of the package?

    • Can I reserve outrage for the fact that this was granted a patent in the first place?

      Bank balance or available credit or hair color is just data. This is a patent on "looking something up", and is total BS.

      Now, if/when someone tries to actually implement this, I think my response will be mockery, half to whatever company thinks people will give them access to their banking histories in order to improve advertising, and the other half to the idiots that will click "yes" to be entered in a free draw.

  • On the other hand, if Apple has a patent on this, it would prevent others from doing it. But what we really ought to do is just find a patent troll and only give them patents for things like this that are corporate-grade jackassary and turn them loose. We can even situate them in Texas for maximum effectiveness.
    • The reality is way worst than that.
      Everybody will pay to use the patent, and you will pay apple even if you hate them and never buy their products.
      Just like you pay the tv "artists" even if you don't watch tv, because you drink coke, eat rice, wear adidas...
  • by SolarAxix ( 457087 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @01:04PM (#50140315)

    From my perspective, there isn't anything truly innovative here. It's more like a business process that shouldn't be patentable. Banks already do some of this within their environments with targeted programs based on their customer's level of credit worthiness.

    What's so different between the banks and Apple? Whereas banks only do it based on certain marketing programs, Apple would/could be doing it at a transaction level instead. That being said, they are very similar in concepts.

    I think the bigger question is why can this be a patent?

    From a high-level perspective, it's just a bunch of APIs that are integrated together to get the job done. Put in another way, if someone decides to integrate a set of APIs together, can that be patentable? Should we start to have a patent lawyer on speed-dial if we link different APIs together? Maybe we need to submit patent applications for our new API mashups before someone else or a corporation does it.

    • From my perspective, there isn't anything truly innovative here. It's more like a business process that shouldn't be patentable. Banks already do some of this within their environments with targeted programs based on their customer's level of credit worthiness.

      Because that's a big part of the purpose of having banks.

      What's so different between the banks and Apple?

      Ooh, I know this one:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      https://www.fdic.gov/ [fdic.gov]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • When I said what's different between the banks and Apple, it was about the process itself.

        My bank keeps gets information on my credit card usage even though all the information is stored with VISA, Mastercard, AMEX, etc...

        What is fundamentaly different from a patent perspective between what Apple pantented and what the banks do when it comes to targeted adds based on credit availability? I would say that the only differences would be that Apple would have external ads that are targeted based on a certain

  • That means other companies can't use this "technology".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unless they license it from Apple. You know, how they licensed one-click from amazon. Or develop a slight variation of it that does not infringe upon Apple's patent. Or wait 20 years for the patent to expire.

  • "he's completely against using customer information in this manner and its not the kind of company he wants Apple to be."

    But not against patenting it and selling the license to others to use.

  • how in the world can one get a patent on something like this......... this really shows how broken the patent system is.. But then again, Apple has given a lot of money to the patentofficers to get their patents approved...
  • Watch what Apple does, not what Apple execs say they are going to do.

    .
    I have to wonder if this decision to monetize customer data is an indication that Apple sees its profit growth slowing down, and Apple is now looking for new revenue streams to make up the difference?

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @02:02PM (#50140597)

    Maybe the companies will start sending me money!

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @02:10PM (#50140637) Homepage Journal

    What makes Apple think it would be any of their damned business what my available credit balance is?

    • Well, based on credit information, they can probably get some idea of income. Now they can sell access to you based upon your income. So if you're income isn't that great, Mercedes doesn't have to waste money advertising to you.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        I get why they want the info, but I don't get why they think they have any right to know.

    • What makes you think that Apple has your available credit balance or is trying to get it?

  • disenfranchising people of their own power to decide for themselves.

    The decisions are already made _for_ people what to look, get offered and is "good" for THEM instead of allowing the individuals it themselves from a choice based on their own unique criteria on an unbiased search tool.

    Wishful thinking, sure....

    One example I came across recently in justifying the removal of Android App Ops quoting restaurant search and GPS location to serve the right result in one's area.

    Total hogwash! If one wants a resta

  • by Anonymous Coward

    it is based on your CREDIT (which anyone can check) not *bank account balance*, which if the bank is doing its job is not possible to snoop. Typical attention whore headline.

    Ok mod me to oblivion

  • IIRC, too many credit checks can impact a credit score; so what happens if an app checks it repeatedly to serve up adds? Not saying Apple will do this, but that could be a potentially problematic downside if someone's credit score goes down and result sin denied credit o higher interest rates.
    • IIRC, too many credit checks can impact a credit score

      A credit check can be a "soft inquiry" or a "hard inquiry" [creditkarma.com]. Pulling your own credit report through a service like Annual Credit Report, Credit Karma, or Discover FICO is a soft inquiry, as is a lender sending you a "pre-selected" offer. They do not affect credit score. A hard inquiry happens when you've already applied for a loan and the bank is making a final decision on whether to lend. Though hard inquiries spread out over the course of several months indicate a risky borrower who overrelies on credit, m [activerain.com]

      • by pamar ( 538061 )

        Not only that, but it would be trivial for Apple to "cache" the credit score as part of their infrastructure - so that even if you ask for "what is Pamar's rating" a billion times, Apple has "asked" only once for fiscal year or whatever.

        Considering that you are not using the credit rating for actual moving money around, but only to show or not a different type of advert, even if your credit rating has changed in the last 3 months it's no big deal.

    • I don't think we're talking about credit scores, though. We're talking about Credit Cards and available credit. Apple has this information through ApplePay. All they have to do is share it with the iAd team. Fortunately, they'd never do that.

  • So is anybody still buying Apple products here? I never have and never will.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I have a MBP and a iPod. Once in a blue moon I use the iPod. I have not made enough use of the MBP to be comfortable with the OS so it is seldom used unless I have to try to figure out something on behalf of my niece who is a bit of a fanatic but a bit clueless. I imagine that the OS X is good, it seems to be fine, but I simply have not used it enough and am more comfortable in Linux and Windows. Finding options and customizing things is not easy for me and I do not feel the urge to search for everything. I

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 19, 2015 @05:18PM (#50141365)

    Big Brother is not the government but just a Harvard MBA.

  • by sad_ ( 7868 )

    Who gave them the right to view my bank account balance?
    Probably will be hidden in one of their EULA's.

  • Would be by me using Apple Pay. So, what's in your iPhone?

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