Privacy advocates are raising concerns over a new technology being implemented by a couple of shopping centres that will allow them to track the movements of their guests using the unique ID numbers of their mobile phones.
The system, called FootPath Technology, uses a series of antennas located throughout a shopping centre to register a shopper’s mobile phone, and then tracks its movements from shop to shop. This provides planners with detailed information about how guests navigate the shopping centre, which shops are most popular, and what areas might be under-trafficked. While it’s being used in the US for the first time starting on Black Friday at the Promenade Temecula in California and the Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Virginia, the system is already in use in shopping centres in Europe and Australia.
While privacy advocates are concerned about the security aspects of logging and tracking a shopper’s mobile phone ID, the system is completely anonymous and doesn’t have access to the person’s name, number or even what they purchased. It simply provides detailed information on where they’ve travelled throughout the shopping centre, which is data that has been collected via other methods for years now. Both shopping centres are being upfront about the new technology, hanging signs that let consumers know they’re being tracked. But their solution for allowing people to opt out, by simply turning off their mobile phones, is akin to saying if you don’t want to be tracked, then don’t shop here. [Chicago Tribune via Examiner]
Photo: AP Photo/Alan Mothner