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ARS reported on an interesting article today where online retailers have gathered behavioral metricks on how customers shop by tracking their movements through their online site. That is well known but now malls are using your cell phone to literally track which isle and mall sections you often walk into and spend more time so they can gather that data and use it to predict the market. The data collection started with this holiday season where US malls have started collecting data about shoppers. Maker of this tracking technology is based in from Portsmouth, England – called Footpath.
Footpath uses monitoring units distributed throughout a mall which sense the customers and uses their cell phone signal strength to collect the data through analytics and loads that into a backend database. Analysts say, Malls can and are using Footpath’s tracking technology to boost sales. With proper predictions, malls can now know what items and merchandise are more attractive to customers and what is not. One analyst said, “Now we can produce heat maps of the mall and show advertisers where the premium locations are for their adverts,” she said, “and perhaps more importantly we can price the advertising differently at each location.”
The main concern is that although Footpath uses signal strength to track a user, that data can be paired all the way up to the register where customer’s information is entered via their credit card. Because of this, retailers can actually get a pretty detailed profile of your behavior and who you really are. ARS also says that this kind of tracking is technically illegal. Devices that measure cell phones’ signal strength could be considered to be “pen registers”—monitoring devices that require a warrant. So basically malls are breaking the law.
Sure the malls will never let you know that they are tracking you and if they did, some privacy loving customers will choose to not enter the mall. I think this is simply another way for us to loose our privacy rights and fall victims to giant corporations that have little regard to privacy.
Read more here – Source.