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Cell Phone Tracking In A Mall Near You?

November 24, 2011, by Ken Jorgustin

cell-phone-mall-tracking
image: pathintelligence.com

A sign of things to come will be the tracking of ‘patterns of movement’ this Holiday Season while shoppers move about from store to store in two specific US shopping malls, the Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. The method of tracking will be the electronic signals emanating from the cell phones of shoppers.

The shopping centers have been equipped with many antennas mounted throughout the premises, which will capture cell phone signals as people walk around the mall. The tracking system called ‘FootPath’ will not capture the ID’s, user-names, or other personal information, according to the manufacturer ‘Path Intelligence’ – a British company who has already installed systems in Europe and Australia.

The information that is collected will be used to discover how people shop and the associations between each person’s shopping preferences (e.g. a person who shops at store-x also shops at store-y, etc.).

As technology further enables very precise data collection, and while the original intent or use of such technology is often for better optimization of capitalism, invariably these technologies go in the back pocket of ‘big brother’ and could present a real invasion of privacy if used for the wrong purposes.

It seems that most people simply accept the fact that they and their habits are being tracked and logged as time ticks by, without much of a thought regarding the invasion of privacy and the erosion of liberty that is occurring.

Most people are not very skeptical about things, and will accept a statement that an organization may say, such as ‘no personal information will be collected’, etc. The statement may indeed be accurate and true, at first… but these things can work themselves into the wrong hands and could work against you after a time.

“Most of this information is harmless and nobody ever does anything nefarious with it,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, retail analyst at Forrester Research. “But the reality is, what happens when you start having hackers potentially having access to this information and being able to track your movements?”

“Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones”

“I’m sure as more people get more cell phones, it’s probably inevitable that it will continue as a resource”

Source: CNN Money

 

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