UPDATE: US Malls Cancel Cell-Phone Tracking After Pressure From Chuck Schumer

short pump mall shopping

Photo: Short Pump Mall

UPDATE: Under pressure from Senator Chuck Schumer, two U.S. malls canceled plans to track customer traffic using cell phone signals.This technology from Path Intelligence was set to debut last weekend in Promenade Temecula in California and Short Pump Town centre in Virginia.

Cell tracking technology, which is controversial but not illegal in the U.S., has seen widespread use in the U.K since 2008, according to the Daily Mail.

Path Intelligence works by triangulating your cell phone signal using receivers installed in the store or mall and is accurate within a meter. The company does not store phone numbers and never reveals information on an individual level. The data is purely to be used for improving sales in a mall.

Malls and stores will be able to track where people are going, the stores shoppers look at, and where customers spend the most time. The data is used for marketing purposes so that malls can place various stores, advertisements, and even fire escapes more strategically.

Path Intelligence can also tell malls if events actually increase shopping, and if people go out of their way to reach their favourite shops. The information is used to optimise product and advertisement placement to get shoppers to spend more money.

Despite being creepy, CEO Shanon Biggar told CNN, “There are no risks to privacy.” And stores are asked to post a sign letting shoppers know that they are being tracked.

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