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There Are Creepy Drones Tracking Cell Phones In The Valley

A drone flying (Photo by Dan McCullough via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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There are several drones that have been flying over the San Fernando Valley since the beginning of this month tracking the locations of smart phones and tablets. The ad company behind this creepy "experiment" is hoping to eventually target unsuspecting people and push hyper-local ads through their devices.

That's right: one day if you're walking by some shop, you might get a message sent to your phone advertising the joint to lure you in. Our worst nightmare.

It feels like we're not too far off from the type of immersive advertising we saw in Minority Report's dystopian future. AdNear, the Singaporean marketing firm that's been testing out these drones since Feb. 4, is using WiFi and cell tower signals to collect wireless data, according to VentureBeat. The testing is expected to continue through March, and possibly expand to Asia, Forbes reports. While no identifiable or visual info is used—like names, phone numbers, photos or video—Adnear is still keeping tabs on where you're going by linking your device to an anonymous user code.

It's the wild west for drone regulation at this point, which is what makes this even more unnerving. Earlier this month, the FAA proposed regulations for commercial drone use, but nothing is set in stone yet. Forbes reports that AdNear could "feasibly exist" under the FAA's proposed regulations.