Beta

Swarm Mobile's Offer: Free Wi-Fi In Exchange For Some Privacy

timothy posted about a year ago | from the tradeoffs-tradeoffs dept.

Privacy 121

cagraham writes "Startup Swarm Mobile intends to help physical retailers counter online shopping habits by collecting data on their customer's actions. Swarm's platform integrates with store's Wifi networks in order to monitor what exactly customers are doing while shopping. In exchange for collecting analytics, shoppers get access to free internet. Swarm then send reports to the store owners, detailing how many customers checked prices online, or compared rival products on their phones. Their platform also allows stores to directly send discount codes or coupons to shopper's phones."

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Die in a fire (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#45585979)

Your stupid mind control techniques don't need more information from spying on us, they need to go away forever.

Re:Die in a fire (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586169)

Building on $2 billion in financing commitments from the private sector for energy efficiency updates to commercial buildings under the president's Better Buildings Challenge, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development today expanded the Challenge to multifamily housing such as apartments and condominiums and launched the Better Buildings Accelerators to support state- and local government-led efforts to cut energy waste and eliminate market and technical barriers to greater building efficiency. The Obama Administration also announced it will challenge federal agencies to further expand their use of performance- based contracts through 2016 to upgrade the energy efficiency of federal buildings at no cost to taxpayers—helping the federal government save money and further reduce energy use.

Full Story [energy.gov]

Those who would (4, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#45586005)

Whose who would exchange privacy for a little internet access deserve neither.

Re:Those who would (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586439)

This is making the false assumption we ever had privacy to begin with.

Re:Those who would (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586471)

Who are you to tell me what information I should voluntarily provide or for what reasons I should provide it?

This isn't the government snooping on my online activities and denying it. This is me willfully entering into an agreement with a service provider.

You give all this info to Amazon and Newegg free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586009)

Just a thought.

What's wrong with this picture? (2)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about a year ago | (#45586029)

If I'm using a phone, what the heck do I need free Wi-Fi for? The darn phone already has an internet connection.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about a year ago | (#45586167)

and you don't have a data cap?

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (2)

Fritzed (634646) | about a year ago | (#45586389)

Not one that will be effected by the type of browsing behavior that one would typically have while wandering a store. We aren't talking about coffee shops here where you stop and hang out for a while.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (3, Interesting)

duckintheface (710137) | about a year ago | (#45586345)

I carry a phone with no contract or data plan. I can text and surf only from wifi.

SMS without a telephone number? (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about a year ago | (#45587409)

How do you send text messages that are not associated with a telephone number? (confused)

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586369)

I suppose the retailers need to implement technology to disrupt mobile data signals, be that passive disruption based on structural design of the retail store or active jamming. That would force internet users to use the only wifi signal available. MuuAhahahahahaha.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

ZipK (1051658) | about a year ago | (#45586483)

I suppose the retailers need to implement technology to disrupt mobile data signals, be that passive disruption based on structural design of the retail store or active jamming. That would force internet users to use the only wifi signal available.

Or inspire shoppers to walk outside to get a signal, at which point they're further from the item and closer to their cars when they find the item on-line for a few dollars cheaper.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#45586391)

The fact that 4G LTE (if you can get it) is at best 300 Mb/s down and 75 Mb/s up, while 802.11n is 600 Mb/s bi-directional?

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (2, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#45586445)

Yeah, I guess if you're uploading lots of selfies while browsing a store, you might want to trade your privacy for much better up speed.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#45586591)

Or if you're just watching Netflix. The advantage may not be as big downstream, but double the data rate still isn't to be sneezed at.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (2)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year ago | (#45586701)

When I'm in a store, I'm attentive toward doing precisely whatever the fuck it takes for me to get out of there sooner. The last thing on my mind is leisurely enjoying netflix on a screen the approximate size of a post-it note.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (5, Funny)

geeper (883542) | about a year ago | (#45586925)

Obviously you're not married.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

certain death (947081) | about a year ago | (#45586935)

Precisely my thought...why the heck would I go to a store and watch netflix? Let alone on my 4.5 inch screen.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#45587045)

why the heck would I go to a store and watch netflix?

Something to do while you're sitting in the store's 'husband chairs' while your wife is shopping for shoes or bedskirts.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about a year ago | (#45586991)

Or if you're just watching Netflix. The advantage may not be as big downstream, but double the data rate still isn't to be sneezed at.

You're joking, right? Netflix in HD runs at a MAX of about 6Mbps. On a phone-sized screen, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between that and a 1Mbps stream. 300Mbps vs. 600Mbps is like debating whether you need a 747 or an A380 to deliver a 10 pound package.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45586643)

That's 600m shared between up and down, shared between all users connected to the access point.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#45587339)

My ATT DSL is 3 Mb/s down and 300 Kb/s up, you insensitive clod.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year ago | (#45587677)

Why the hell would anyone need even 75 megs down for comparison pricing while in a store?!

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586951)

Some carriers have crappy data connection in some retail areas (such as shopping malls).

Still, if I am using Public WiFi, I am usually using my laptop while drinking coffee or eating. I think I have connected to a retail store's wifi maybe once or twice.

What would be smarter would be if the barcode scanner apps collected GPS information and sold that and what customers were scanning to stores in the area.. Of course, I would just go download another barcode scanner app.

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#45587121)

What's wrong here is that you're either generalizing from your own experience, or you're just pulling a complaint from your backside.

Inside a big box store, my phone's (cellular) internet connection is often shakey-to-non-existent. (Not to mention, if I'm using someone else's wi-fi, I',m not running the meter on my own data plan.)

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#45588057)

Don't worry citizen, the mall operates a local wireless cell and "already got all your innifo"

Re:What's wrong with this picture? (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#45588153)

For me this is the question. I have unlimited 4G, so the store wifi does not always provide value. I will sometimes bring my tablet, which has limited 3G, so the store Wifi is valuable there. But if I am using my tablet I am not really shopping, just waiting around for others. Not a problem as the store still gets my money, but they get no real data on my movements or whatever.

But I think the point about why we need wifi when we have 4G is important in that it provides a base for the expected service. The store has to provide better performance than what we get, and it can't just be that the store has crippled the 4G service. What I have noticed is that stores often have inferior service, often because of throttling of certain content. Now, obvously some filtering is necessary as they don't want people to come to store just to make use of the free wifi to pleasure themselves in the bath room, or wherever.

OTOH, I have seen places that block software updates and youtube videos and the like. Really, if a store is trying to provide a service where a child can be entertained while the parent shop, this is excessive. Or when I am waiting for someone. I may need to update something, or want to download a new app. Why not?

In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45586039)

I don't have any privacy to give up. Every last site on the internet already connects to Facebook and Google and every other "social" service already. There's nothing for me to trade them. I'm tracked 24-7 already. To late. I have nothing more to offer you.

It's like they're asking for the soul I already sold.

That said, I'll take your WiFi access, as long as I can get my auto-fill app on 'droid to fill out your EULA page automatically.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45586249)

Every last site on the internet already connects to Facebook and Google and every other "social" service already.

Privacy extensions like Ghostery and NoScript are your friend.

I've got Google and Facebook blocked wherever I can. I'm not here to provide them with information about what I do on the internet. Some things are blocked at the firewall, and simply can't be resolved in my house.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (4, Interesting)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45586365)

Every last site on the internet already connects to Facebook and Google and every other "social" service already.

Privacy extensions like Ghostery and NoScript are your friend.

I've got Google and Facebook blocked wherever I can. I'm not here to provide them with information about what I do on the internet. Some things are blocked at the firewall, and simply can't be resolved in my house.

They're not my friend. I'm not losing one second of sleep about being tracked. I went all-in a couple of years ago, and the thought police haven't descended from their black helicopters yet. I'm content to be the product that Google offers it's customers. I get a pretty good return on these services. I'm happy to be able to comment on some forum random forum quickly with my Facebook account. I'm happy to have Google give me a preemptive traffic update because it knows my schedule. I'm pleased that my games keep my scores and friends cross-platform and through device upgrades.

When my ISP started serving up ads when I mistyped a URL, I even switched to 8.8.8.8 for my DNS.

Screw it. Google can have my data. I wasn't using it anyway.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45586831)

>>> the thought police haven't descended from their black helicopters yet.
 
What about *-ism Internet lynch mob that would make you unemployable by disproportionally and retroactively applying arbitrary social standards? Make sure to never make any jokes that could be misunderstood, especially about forking builds and dongles. What about political views? I am sure you agree with every political creed, from tree-hugging hippies to anarcho-libertarian conservatives and nobody would ever take an offense. What about your asshole boss that would use a picture of you legally and responsibly consuming legal substances as an evidence of substance abuse and discriminate against you at your workplace? What about deranged stalkers?
 
Yes, because keeping safe from black helicopters is why people value their privacy.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45587087)

never make any jokes that could be misunderstood, especially about forking builds and dongles.

That incident was in meatspace, by two toolbags. Plenty of us know how to compose ourselves online _and_ offline. And when we don't? That's what anonymous coward (with a touch of a quasi-anonymous gmail account) is for. It would take a subpoena to figure out who I am, and if I broke the law (or was accused of it with sufficient evidence) then they can come get the data about how I troll slashdot. See if my lawyer cares.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45587179)

I still disagree. The fact that "that incident" initiated outside of social media and only progressed via it changes nothing. Fundamentally, you have to deal with a) lack of control over your audience b) "internet never forgets" c) disproportionate response with arbitrary social standards.

For example - you have different standards of acceptable behavior - a) in a sports bar with your friend b) at the funereal of your friend's mother. While in a) jokes about your friend's mother are entirely acceptable, if someone were to bring them up during b) it would cause you major social embarrassment regardless of acceptability in initial context/settings.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45587253)

So question to AC - what social standard to follow? Is there one that guaranteed to never offend arbitrary large number of people of diverse cultural backgrounds and random levels of unreasonableness?

Yes, chances of lynch mob happening to you are rather slim. So are chances of getting run over while crossing the street, yet we still look both ways.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45587731)

Haha. Wait until you get blacklisted from employment for your political views.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45587873)

What about *-ism Internet lynch mob that would make you unemployable by disproportionally [sic] and retroactively applying arbitrary social standards?

What about them?

Welcome to the internet. Everything here is forever.

I'm not going to live in fear of having ideas and thoughts of my own. I regularly speak my mind and regularly express unpopular opinions. I live with the consequences of my actions -- you know, like an adult.

Since I don't live in fear of the internet boogeyman, I don't mind letting someone see my browsing history in exchange for (more) free WiFi.

If I want privacy, I know how to get it.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586963)

Doesn't work. If they are using deep packet inspection, they will know exactly what you are looking. The only option is to only use ssl.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#45586429)

requestpolicy isn't too shabby either.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45586615)

I don't think that one is compatible with the mobile version of Firefox yet, unfortunately. (Neither is NoScript, for that matter, although Ghostery apparently is.)

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

guanxi (216397) | about a year ago | (#45586767)

Neither is NoScript

There's a beta product that I use; it seems a little buggy when I have to change permissions.

http://noscript.net/nsa/ [noscript.net]

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586323)

Try Ghostery. Some of the bages I visit have as many as 37 trackers that get blocked; I think they are blocking like 1600-1700 trackers at the moment. They do keep their own stats, but it's better than the individual trackers, IMO. Also, there are plugins to block Google and Facebook. Of course, you have to trust that they are doing what they say, but hey, you're gonna surf anyway, why not try to keep some shred of privacy? Just my opinion.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586373)

Don't use FB / Google / Twitter to sign in to anything, and it'll already help with the constant collection. Browser extensions can help more.
I personally don't use social media at all, and so I've blacklisted Google and FBs entire IP ranges on my mobile devices, and on my home firewall. Those two are the worst with the data collection tools they provide to webiste owners. The other major players are easy enough to avoid if you aren't using their services.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#45586975)

I avoid non-professional use of social media, and I am sure as a result I am on some-or-another list of deranged killers to be watched full time.

This does create superficial social problems, but people that want to get instantly in touch with me can still use their always-connected smartphones to place ISDN call.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about a year ago | (#45586437)

I don't have any privacy to give up ... as long as I can get my auto-fill app on 'droid to fill out your EULA page automatically.

If you agree to EULAs without at least skimming them for privacy-infringing conditions, I hope you aren't seriously surprised when your privacy is thereby infringed.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45586707)

Why would I be surprised?

I ever-so-boldly don't give a crap that I'm being tracked.

Re:In exchange for privacy? WHA? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#45587175)

Wait, you voluntarily connected to Facebook and Google already?

Hmmm (1)

koan (80826) | about a year ago | (#45586047)

These days most of these services give the vibe of "watch what your pets are up to" like some sort of kitty cam but for squeezing every last cent out of the shopping cattle.

In other words all this crap is just a giant cattle monitoring system for retailers and other corporations.

*just make it shiny and they will use it*

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45587037)

These days most of these services give the vibe of "watch what your pets are up to" like some sort of kitty cam but for squeezing every last cent out of the shopping cattle.

In other words all this crap is just a giant cattle monitoring system for retailers and other corporations.

*just make it shiny and they will use it*

Time to write an app that will connect in the background, and proceed to check the prices on the most vulgar products possible whenever a network like this is detected.

"Here's your monthly report! Your shoppers are mostly craving black dildoes, the jizzing variety, with anal lube coming in #2."

Well (2)

lagomorpha2 (1376475) | about a year ago | (#45586057)

So I can use this to connect to a VPN and get free internet access without any invasion of my privacy? I like it.

Re:Well (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45586257)

As long as it works over port 80 through their proxy server, sure.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586699)

Once you are connected, it is all about triangulation, where you stop, if you are surfing or not (for me it tends to be outside the changing rooms waiting for my wife to try on a gazillion items) and therefore whether the retail experience is working. Therefore VPN won't be hiding an awful lot from them...the only thing they care about is are you surfing or shopping!

Time to flip on the VPN... (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#45586075)

This is another reason to have a VPN ready. I don't think this technology is really new... just a repackage of looking at HTTP streams for marketing reasons.

I tend to use a VPN on any public Wi-Fi, and this just adds even more reason to. If the local place blocks it, that is their perogative and their store.

Re:Time to flip on the VPN... (1)

faedle (114018) | about a year ago | (#45587791)

They're still getting valuable data. As I understand it, part of what they're doing is using your physical location in the store triangulated from your phone. While using a VPN does limit SOME of the information they're gathering, it doesn't eliminate all of it.

Sure, no problem, go ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586099)

You can analyze my VPN as much as you like.

Re:Sure, no problem, go ahead (2)

TheloniousToady (3343045) | about a year ago | (#45586279)

Finally! We're getting a little love!

The NSA

Tough ... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45586107)

It's things like this why the wifi on my phone is disabled when I'm not using it, and why I don't have a data plan.

Measure that bitches. Because I'm sure as hell not providing you with the information.

Re:Tough ... (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45586207)

Because I'm sure as hell not providing you with the information.

Nor yourself with much functionality.

Re:Tough ... (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year ago | (#45586273)

Ermagerd, I'm without Internet access for entire minutes at a time!!! Cry me a river.

Re:Tough ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586315)

You only leave your house for minutes at a time?

Re:Tough ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586441)

You only use the internet in your house?

Re:Tough ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45586321)

Nor yourself with much functionality.

I provide myself with precisely the functionality I require, which is plenty good for me.

I can go without checking my email while I'm shopping. In fact, I've been known to go an entire day without using the interwebs -- because I understand that it's just a tool, and not actually vital every moment of the day.

And, from what I can tell, mobile internet on a phone is more than I'm willing to spend, and is mostly just a way to see even more ads and crap like that. Or, apparently provide tracking information to retailers.

Re:Tough ... (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45586541)

So, fear of the unknown then?

I've really never seen any indication at all that the retailers are doing anything any different when I have my phone with me than when I don't.
They don't offer me any better deals tailored to what I came in to buy, they don't target advertising at me, certainly not at my phone, nor to I
get any spam from them.

They might be getting smarter about their prices, knowing what the competition's prices are, but they don't need any information from me to
get that.

In short, you seem very afraid of the boogie men hiding under your bed.

Re:Tough ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45586645)

No, I have a stunning lack of trust in retailers and analytics companies.

I simply refuse to provide them with data to make money from me when I don't need to.

Free wi-fi in stores so they can track what you do and come up with more analytics? No thanks. I don't need their wi-fi that badly, and don't especially care that they have better marketing information.

You are free to choose to do whatever the hell you like. Me, I choose to exercise my choice by denying them information that I don't need to provide them to finish a transaction.

So when the sales clerk asks for my zip code or my phone number or anything else they don't legally need, I just look at them and say "nope". If they occasionally insist (because they're idiots who have been coached to say they 'need' it), I will simply walk away from the cash register.

Re:Tough ... (4, Interesting)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year ago | (#45586815)

So when the sales clerk asks for my zip code or my phone number or anything else they don't legally need, I just look at them and say "nope". If they occasionally insist (because they're idiots who have been coached to say they 'need' it), I will simply walk away from the cash register.

That's unnecesarily confrontational, means you've lost the time sunk into being in the store to being with, and puts a burden on the poor moron who's just trying to get through another day at their miserable-ass job

You should just realize that priv^H^H^H^Hdata-analytics is a myth, accept it, and proceed to teach them by polluting their databases with as many fake ZIP codes as you can muster. The liquor store up the street from me thinks they get visitors from Illinois, New York, Flordia, Washington state, and occasionally Alaska. My motto is "Bad data is worse than no data."

I honestly stopped being that worried about Amazon and Google when I realized that I could make their recommendations reflect things I wouldn't have ever considered buying without actually buying anything I didn't feel like. Just looked at it, actually. Yerp, recommendations include diapers and doublesided tape. I'm single and have no kids (and not incontient), and well, doublesided tape. Hah.

Re:Tough ... (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about a year ago | (#45588055)

You should just realize that priv^H^H^H^Hdata-analytics is a myth, accept it, and proceed to teach them by polluting their databases with as many fake ZIP codes as you can muster. The liquor store up the street from me thinks they get visitors from Illinois, New York, Flordia, Washington state, and occasionally Alaska. My motto is "Bad data is worse than no data."

"So many visitors from Beverly Hills! Everyone today has the zip code 90210, it's amazing!" :)

Unfortunately there's no equivalent Canadian TV show that uses the postal code in the title. "Ottawa K1A 0A9" just doesn't have the same ring to it...and would be dreadfully boring, in any case. Until they start shouting at one another on the House floor like spoiled children...then it's just embarrassing. I suppose Canadians could start peppering the tracking DB's with Santa's postal code: H0H 0H0...

Re:Tough ... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#45588213)

No, I have a stunning lack of trust in retailers and analytics companies.

I simply refuse to provide them with data to make money from me when I don't need to.

So you basically don't shop online, that is?

All the retailers are doing is trying to at least get on par with what online retailers are getting, because face it, being an online retailer rocks.

First, less staff, less cost (your warehouse can be anywhere that's cheap). Plus you get piles of analytics - Amazon probably has the shopping habits of most of North America down in their databases. And it's fairly good analytics as well - names, addresses (not just zip codes!) and a precise history of what they bought and what was sent to what address.

A brick and mortar? Well damn, they get none of that. At best they get a zip code locator, or a rough (anonymous) outline of what aisles you visit. And you can pay in anonymous cash, too.

Re:Tough ... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year ago | (#45586905)

I've been known to go an entire day without using the interwebs... from what I can tell, mobile internet on a phone is more than I'm willing to spend

I do exactly the opposite: my cellphone has pretty much only a data plan (5GB of 4G, with unlimited 3G after that, but only 100 voice minutes), so I make all my calls over VoIP. For $30/month, I'm getting a more useful connection than the chumps paying Verizon $100/month get.

I do apparently need to start directing my mobile data through a VPN, though...

Nothing New (1)

Oysterville (2944937) | about a year ago | (#45586115)

Whenever I connect to a free wifi hot spot at a major retailer, I do so fully accepting that they are sniffing the traffic. This is why I only use it to price check online. Let's them know that their customers are keeping track of them in that way.

Re:Nothing New (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45586275)

Ironically, this is exactly what this service is offering the retailer -- better snooping into exactly that sort of browsing. The retailer wants to know which of their products are getting surfed for alternative buying.

Re:Nothing New (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#45586581)

The retailer wants to know which of their products are getting surfed for alternative buying.

Uhh... all of them?

Re:Nothing New (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45586311)

Exactly.

All my email or other uses of their wifi is encrypted already, and the only thing left for them to sniff is unencrypted pages from third party sellers. Even my google searches are encrypted, so they get nothing from that either.

You can't proxy ssl. And I suspect all this service really does is route everything through Swarm Mobile's transparent proxy. Most stores simply don't have the expertise to deal with basic traffic analysis let alone deep packet inspection, so they hire Swarm.

But as more an more shopping sites use HTTPS, this becomes less and less useful except for mining price checks on non-ssl sites.

Re:Nothing New (2)

rk (6314) | about a year ago | (#45586659)

you can't proxy ssl

To use our service, please install our "accelerator" package that also adds our certificate to your phone. Boom. I can now proxy SSL. I wouldn't install such a thing, you probably wouldn't do it either, most people here on /. wouldn't do it, but how many "normals" would, with the promise of "Free Wifi at thousands of locations!" not understanding that their mobile device's whole security model is now compromised?

Re:Nothing New (2)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#45586669)

You can proxy SSL. BlueCoat sells devices which do exactly that.

Of course, the root key will be different, but of all the users using a Wi-fi service, how many will stop what they are doing, versus click on the "bah, toss the key into the trusted root keystore regardless of security and let me proceed" button.

I don't think this is what Swarm Mobile is doing, but if someone did try MITM-ing SSL streams, I would not be surprised if they had some success.

Will stores hand out copies of privacy policy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586125)

Has anyone asked a store with free wifi for a copy of their privacy policy?

This could prove rather entertaining. Or scary.

what if I just reload goatse hundreds of times? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586139)

then what fuckos?

Re:what if I just reload goatse hundreds of times? (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45586553)

Then they'll send you free coupons for psychiatric care.

Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586145)

When your cell phone carrier can have it phone home with the GPS coordinates, tell which store you're in, and sell the same information to the merchant without needing your permission or you to actually connect to some random WiFi network?

Yet Another Reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586177)

... to not go to physical retailers.

Don't these places realize they really shouldn't be trying to make it easier for me to not give them my money?

Sounds like a deal. (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#45586211)

Sure you can use my wifi for free, but how are you going to enhance my privacy?

Re:Sounds like a deal. (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about a year ago | (#45586969)

Well, I'll help increase the noise and drown out your signal.

Bring it on! (1)

klingens (147173) | about a year ago | (#45586221)

I love to use my OpenVPN server on port 443 at home, or http tunnel. Any people complaining here about loss of privacy and so on: are you really surfing on any public AP, be it McD, library, etc without the protection of a VPN/tunnel of some sort? If so then you are not allowed to complain about privacy loss. And if you do: why do you care, you just got another free AP in the city, saving your preciousss MBs on the mobile plan! Yay!

Re:Bring it on! (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45586295)

I love to use my OpenVPN server on port 443 at home, or http tunnel. Any people complaining here about loss of privacy and so on: are you really surfing on any public AP, be it McD, library, etc without the protection of a VPN/tunnel of some sort? If so then you are not allowed to complain about privacy loss. And if you do: why do you care, you just got another free AP in the city, saving your preciousss MBs on the mobile plan! Yay!

I think most of us just don't care.

I'm willing to use McDonald's WiFi if it's faster than whatever data I'm getting at the time. I don't give two craps if if they know where I surfed or if I signaled the Candy Crush server that I completed level 263.

I imagine I'm like most users in that regard.

Re:Bring it on! (2)

Aaden42 (198257) | about a year ago | (#45586423)

Observed Traffic Pattern: Candy Crush level 263

Analyzing . . .

User Profile: Addictive personality, drug seeking.

Marketing Plan: Serve coupon for free fries with McHog Burger purchase.

Re:Bring it on! (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45586733)

You post is funny, but that's exactly what I'm happy to have.

I'm smart enough to know if purchasing the new McHog is a good idea or not -- and I might just get free fries with it because I've submitted to the will of my Googly master.

Re:Bring it on! (1)

swb (14022) | about a year ago | (#45586765)

McDonald's wifi is usually horribly slow for me. I do much better off LTE than their wifi.

Re:Bring it on! (2)

Andrewkov (140579) | about a year ago | (#45587109)

Their network arteries are too congested..

Re:Bring it on! (3, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#45586421)

VPNs should be a matter of course for anyone using Wi-Fi (barring their home/work networks, of course.) FireSheep type attacks are not as big an attack as in the past, but there are still things one can do, be it Phorm-like modification of HTTP streams in flight (perhaps injecting malware) to DNS hijacking (and there are people who will completely ignore the obvious SSL warnings and proceed no matter what, even stashing the bogus key in their root cert pool.)

VPNs are not perfect. However, having traffic slowed or stopped is a less of an issue than having it modified in flight or just plain snooped.

Who fucks with stupid portaled wifi? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586255)

I have 4g on my phone; if i need to compare prices on something in a store I am not going to fuck around with getting on the local wifi just to save 500kb of transfers on my plan. Anyone else feel the same way? You can put up free wifi all you want but even if i did use it, i would be HTTPS'ing everything anyway, good luck knowing what I was looking at on Amazon.com. And if you try some stupid shit like blocking 4g (offering a microcell that conveniently omits data traffic, i have seen it done in the strangest of places) i probably will stop shopping there. No 4g=ghetto.

More hassle than it's worth (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about a year ago | (#45586281)

I used to be into free WiFi but over the last few years it has become a chore, with more and more places (even smaller stores) replacing unprotected WiFi routers with these annoying systems that make you login with an email address or force you to accept their terms and conditions.

With mobile data plans veering towards truly unlimited (at least in the UK) and mobile data speeds even surpassing that of home broadband, there is less of a need for these free WiFi solutions. And whilst there are some places, like pubs in the countryside where there is no mobile coverage, where free WiFi would be useful, its usefulness is almost always outweighed by the scenarios where I'm passing a shop or coffee place and my mobile internet stops working because my phone has decided to latch onto a WiFi hotspot that wants me to login.

Re:More hassle than it's worth (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#45586377)

It is that way across the pond with systems that demand you create a user account for "free" access, or at best are unusable because someone else is using it for their torrents.

Here, the tragedy of the commons is in full swing, so some retailers (especially cafes) actually turn off their public APs from 11-2 to deter table campers (people who buy a drink, then sit at a table for hours during the busy lunch rush.)

Unfortunately, unlimited mobile plans are going the opposite way in the US... Sprint killed all MVNO contracts offering unlimited capacity/month last month.

Some phones have a provider that automatically latches on if given a SSID. This is why I prefer something with CyanogenMod or similar so unless I explicitly tell it to hop onto a connection, it won't. This beats having to turn off the Wi-Fi antenna when leaving the house.

I don't use store's free wifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586363)

because I know they can have dd-wrt style scripts to raise the prices of their online competition. Or outright block them.

Do the customers know they're making a deal? (1)

guanxi (216397) | about a year ago | (#45586397)

Are the store customers informed about what they are giving up in return for free Internet access (which many already have via their cellular provider)? Do they understand it? (Also, is it personally identifiable information?)

One issue that makes me doubt the 'nobody cares about privacy' argument is that the organizations collecting information, including governments and businesses, are so secretive about it. Some disclose in long agreements that they know nobody reads, but very rarely do they really inform their targets about what they are doing. I wonder why?

Lack of privacy hurts others not you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586447)

The harm for this fall on those not spied on by Swarm Mobile. You will get worse deal, because retailers think that can tell if you are about to find a better one.

So if you don't visibly check competitors for prices, you will be harmed.
If you don't check competitors prices, you will be harmed.
If you don't want to have to check competitors prices and use coupons, you will be harmed.

Privacy doesn't work like people think. For retailers it is about money, and the harm is about money.

Too late (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#45586487)

More and more websites are moving to HTTPS. That means snooping only goes down the to IP address level. They'll have no idea what people are looking at on ebay.com or amazon.com

Re:Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45586719)

But they will know that 37% of users sitting on the benches near the women's changing rooms are looking at massivemammaries.com and quickly go to sears.com just before leaving the area.

how much longer is this going to be a thing? (1)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#45586539)

for 20 years now the internet has been increasingly about 'free $X for some privacy" and its a model we've all gladly accepted and the concerned hackers among us protested. the cost of hosting and the cost of engineering are oft cited reasons to employ this deep-dive marketing horseshit but for some of us, the salary alone seems to suggest hosting and marketing online are trivially inexpensive. So sure, if you want me to use your service how about I attach a condition. You can have some of my privacy, if your C-levels and marketing nutjobs enjoy a little social engineering. And once some money grubbing bentley driving suit's license plate or back yard or in home conversation courtesy of a laser microphone turn up in a tumblr feed, then we're fucking even.

Thanks for the info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45587183)

I'll make sure to use the store's wifi to check the price of stuff I'm interested in (and nothing else).

VPN4U (1)

Terry95 (2690775) | about a year ago | (#45587241)

If you give people your data you can't really complain when they use it. I (almost) never use free wi-fi without firing up my VPN.

After putting way more effort into it than I normally do for such things I ended up with iVPN. Very happy with them. (no it's not a commercial and I have no interest blah blah blah, but there are dozens of companies and most of them are total crap. So this is my a public service advice).

Old news (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#45587581)

If you read the EULA on free wifi portals, many of them already collect info on you. Even if you don't connect to any, many stores will track your movement by your adapter's MAC address. This is why I disable my phone's wifi adapter entirely when I'm not using it now. Saves a lot of battery too.

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