It never ceases to amaze me just how our rights are violated to make someone a profit every day.
The newest twist (according to Sean Gallagher) is by tracing your cellphone signal strength as you enter and walk around in a mall. This new method
pioneered by Path Intelligence (http://www.pathintelligence.com/) essentially turns your cellphone into a tracking cookie.
What begs the question is however the simple fact that this cellphone data can be cross-indexed with credit card purchases, effectively identifying, and indexing “walk by” vs. “purchasing” populations down to the actual identity of the unsuspecting person.
These feckless “data entrepreneurs” (aka spies) have the nerve to state “warnings” are posted, so the public is informed. Here’s their purported “warning” which tells no one anything in the least visible manner possible:
It doesn’t state the method used, and is presented in the least attention attracting method possible, in the dullest colors on a mall map along with the url. No one intent on finishing his/her shopping would check that (a fact they have certainly researched and are counting on).
In an effort to expose this, and as a service to our British members, all I can tell you is the mall involved is a Forest City property. I cannot find the identity. They are not quite “transparent”.
Their nefarious efforts are not limited to England, where they can get away with it legally. They are in America also:
In the US, Footpath is being trailed in two malls by “Forest City” (http://www.forestcity.net/Pages/default.aspx), a mall real estate company that owns malls and shopping centers nationwide. Promenade Temecula in Temecula, California, and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Virginia are the sites of choice; the trial started twelve days ago, and will run through New Years.” – Sean Gallagher (link above)
Here in America, we are (paradoxically) protected from this type of behavior by “The Patriot Act”:
“There's just one problem with this type of detailed tracking: it's technically illegal, according to Mark Rasch, the director of cyber security at CSC. Thanks to court interpretations of provisions in the Patriot Act, he said in a recent blog, devices that measure cell phones' signal strength could be considered to be "pen registers"—monitoring devices that require a warrant.
"Although this mall technology might not identify specific individuals, it raises a bunch of privacy red flags," he wrote. "First, the instant the consumer identifies himself or herself anywhere in the mall (say, by using a credit or debit card to buy something), it is a trivial task to cross reference the cell phone data with the payment data and realize that the person hanging around outside the Victoria’s Secret dressing room was your 70-year-old neighbor."” – Sean Gallagher (http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2011/11/were-watching-malls-track-shoppers-cell-phone-signals-to-gather-marketing-data.ars)
I wonder if anything will come of that.
In case you were wondering, some malls are also using facial recognition software to track shoppers. That is illegal as well.
In summary, I’d like to see these folks (all of them) brought to justice. I also know nothing like that will ever happen. The most I can do is tell you about it, and by doing so warn you.