Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Australian Malls To Track Shoppers By Their Phones

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the dial-S-for-shopping dept.

Australia 236

Fluffeh writes "Australian shopping centers will monitor customers' mobile phones to track how often they visit, which stores they like and how long they stay. One unnamed Queensland shopping center is next month due to become the first in the nation to install receivers that detect unique mobile phone radio frequency codes to pinpoint location within two meters."

cancel ×

236 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Don't just turn it off either (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711006)

leave it at home.

Re:Don't just turn it off either (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711456)

Let's go back to land lines. Worked fine before (and, no, I'm not being sarcastic)

Good luck... (4, Informative)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711018)

...Australian shops are so overpriced that it's getting to the point where they're not going to have any customers to track.

Re:Good luck... (3, Interesting)

labnet (457441) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711354)

...Australian shops are so overpriced that it's getting to the point where they're not going to have any customers to track.

Amen to that.
We were quoted $8k for 2 Siemens Wall Ovens.
UK Retail Price $3.2k
What did we do? Paid the $3.2k + $800 costs to import them!

Globalisation is a disruptive force!

(BTW Australians call them shopping centres, not Malls)
(BBTW Have seen our supermarkets stocking halloween stuff... go away unwanted American culture)

go away unwanted American culture (1, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711406)

He says on an American website.

Re:go away unwanted American culture (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711602)

He is referencing a US custom that really has no place in most other countries(doesnt mean the US shouldnt). They also try and import it here(The Netherlands) for quite some time already. It really is annoying. It would be the same as us trying to export Sinterklaas or Koninginnendag to the US.

Re:Good luck... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711438)

Glad you don't want our American Culture.

Oh, by the way, don't forget to toss any modern cellphone you have, Apple/Google/Microsoft/WebOS, what country did they come from again?

Re:Good luck... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711526)

WTF has that got to do with culture?? ll made in China as far as I can see, what was your point?

Re:Good luck... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711536)

Glad you don't want our American Culture.

Oh, by the way, don't forget to toss any modern cellphone you have, Apple/Google/Microsoft/WebOS, what country did they come from again?

china?

Re:Good luck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711542)

China?

Besides, those are hardly the majority of mobile phones. Samsung, LG, and Nokia being notable exceptions.

Re:Good luck... (-1, Flamebait)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711464)

(Forgot to log in): Glad you don't want our American Culture. Oh, by the way, don't forget to toss any modern cellphone you have, Apple/Google/Microsoft/WebOS, what country did they come from again?

Re:Good luck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711482)

Hey, don't be trying to claim my post as your own!

Re:Good luck... (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711584)

Glad you don't want our American Culture. Oh, by the way, don't forget to toss any modern cellphone you have, Apple/Google/Microsoft/WebOS, what country did they come from again?

Just hope you don't like Chinese restaurant. I heard being a communist is not so popular in the US.

Re:Good luck... (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711670)

The (very) general area of south-east Asia?

Re:Good luck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711388)

So true. Look at iRobot vacuum cleaners ... Sabco, the Australian distributor, only allows old models into the country and for the prices they put on single units it's cheaper to buy the latest models with all the bells and whistles and extras (like IR beacons) in Europe and import them yourself.

Re:Good luck... (1)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711408)

So it's cheaper to get them from Europe than from the US? That's a surprise.

Re:Good luck... (3, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711594)

So it's cheaper to get them from Europe than from the US? That's a surprise.

My experience of trying to import electronics from the US into the UK is that very few online shops in the US seem to ship outside of North America, whereas the online shops in Europe tend to be happy to ship to anywhere in the world.

Re:Good luck... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711632)

In the US they have to pay the Apple tax for having an i in the name.

Re:Good luck... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711414)

So what're you going to do about it?

Walk across the border to New Zealand?

Stop buying stuff and starve to death?

Re:Good luck... (1)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711510)

Umm... no. Anyone with any sense knows they can buy electronic items cheaper from overseas and have them shipped in.

As for food ... it's almost always cheaper to buy fresh food from local markets than it is to buy it from the supermarkets.

Re:Good luck... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711524)

So what're you going to do about it?

Walk across the border to New Zealand?

Stop buying stuff and starve to death?

Order stuff over the Internet?
Grow your own food?
Buy your food directly from the next farmer?

Re:Good luck... (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711748)

So what're you going to do about it? Walk across the border to New Zealand?

It's a long walk to New Zealand. Hope you can hold your breath.

Surveilance society anyone? (5, Insightful)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711022)

Great, thanks. Now I know next time I go shopping in Oz I will pop the battery out of my phone.

WTF is up with companies these days who think they can track everywhere you go and everything you do? If this is not privacy invasion, I don't know what is. Pretty soon every child born will get their global tracking implant right after birth so they can be tracked throughout their life.

Please repeat, 1984 is NOT an instruction manual.

Not Unique to Australia (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711114)

This isn't strictly an Australian thing, so you'll need to just get rid of the phone. A prominent, international retailer that I work with is using a service similar to this now. It tracks the unique addresses of the phones of the people in the store as well as the ones just outside of the store. It helps to measure conversion percentages (e.g. how many people that walk in the store actually buy something) and could be used to give an indicator of store front appeal (e.g. phone ID xxx has been walking by the store everyday for a week, but came in the store after the price cuts were indicated in the store window). Finally, if the tracker is installed at multiple stores, it will note if the same person browses at one store and purchases at another (e.g. finds product at the full price store in Manhattan, but buys at the outlet shop in Paramus).

This isn't really that new, just a new approach to more targeted marketing. Retailers have been counting you as you walk through the door, collecting your name, address, and purchasing habits for years. Some customers even volunteer their information by signing up for club cards and rewards cards.

Well said! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711128)

Sadly it isn't even for anything as noble as the government forcing a broken utopia on the masses like 1984 propsed. This is pure greed on the part of the companies running the shops and the mall management.

All this technology so they can position the ad stands and displays in a certain way to extract cash from the gullible who are too impatient to wait to buy XYZ product. Sure have a look in the mall, make a note and go home and buy it half the price online!

Advertising is the vomit that stains modern living!

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711134)

It's enough to just turn on 'flight mode'.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

Wattos (2268108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711212)

It is not.

Some people might want to be reachable while shopping. Was this not the point of mobile phones? To be reachable independent of your location? To me this is a clear privacy invasion, since it seems that I cannot opt out of this scheme.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711256)

So get a land line with a really long extension cable!

I don't meant to trivialize what you're saying, but there is a price that you have to pay if you want the toys. Unfortunately, it is a price that is both inherent in existing technology and it cannot simply be legislated away. (Marketers can be a slimy lot and some will ignore the law.) So it is probably best to let people know about the potential uses and let them decide if they want to turn it off when it is not needed.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711302)

It's not really your "privacy" though. You sacrificed that the moment you got a mobile phone - they must periodically announce their presence in order for the local cell to be able to route calls to you. If you shouted "HELLO! I'M WATTOS!" every five minutes, you wouldn't contend that you were preserving your privacy. The telco has always been able to place the cell your phone is in, and if they make a special effort, much closer by triangulating cell towers.

I had a radio pager for a long while. I could still be reached, but because it had no transmitter, it couldn't be tracked and had a very long battery life (several weeks on an AA battery). The telco still knew exactly what messages were being sent to which pager.

That said, I still find this insidious and creepy. I'm shocked, but not surprised, to learn that this is already going on in the UK.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711384)

The difference is that this system has much better accuracy. Telcos can only track you if you are calling someone for 5-10 minutes.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711638)

5-10 minutes? You've been watching too much television.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711386)

It's not really your "privacy" though. You sacrificed that the moment you got a mobile phone - they must periodically announce their presence in order for the local cell to be able to route calls to you.

They could enrypt the ID data so malls couldn't read it, though. The malls would be able to tell roughly how many phones were on the premises and their approx locations, but not uniquely identify them.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711576)

Only if they add randomness to the encryption; otherwise the encrypted ID will be as constant and therefore as identifying as the unencrypted one.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711490)

It's not really your "privacy" though. You sacrificed that the moment you got a mobile phone

Actually, you sacrificed it as soon as you showed your face. In a small community where everybody knew everybody else a storekeeper could already see who was coming into their store, who bought what and who walked past and when. As communities got larger and more anonymous that was temporarily lost, but now with technology like this (and it probably won't be long until they are doing it with CCTV and face recognition) it's coming back.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711368)

I was referring to it being easier than taking out the battery.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

Nysul (1816168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711230)

I know this is regarding AU, but I really think we need a privacy amendment to the US constitution. Right now cops in California can hook up a device to your phone and obtain all of its contents, without a warrant or probable cause. This type of stuff is just getting started.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711260)

As much as I agree with you about the privacy invasion, in Australia shopping centres are private property and pretty much everything is at their discretion. If they want to track you on the way through the door, well you're in their house so it's their prerogative.

Not that that is right, just that it is.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711762)

We just cannot accept everything just because everywhere we go is a 'private property'. There's cameras everywhere, in the street, in shopping malls, in train stations, in shops, etc. Our mobile phones are being tracked real-time, our cars are being tracked real-time, parents can track their children real-time, etc. People need to buy food, they need to travel, and so on but the ubiquity of surveillance is just not acceptable. This trend is getting worse and worse and people are not fighting back. So yes, we're not in 1984 yet but we definitely have one step in this surveillance nightmare.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711440)

Okay, I'll do D-A here: turn off your phone if you don't want to be tracked. They're picking up signal /you/ are broadcasting. What's more, signal /you/ are broadcasting on /their/ property.

Turn your radio off. Demand encrypted non-trackable phones. Take some bloody responsibility for /your/ end of it for a change. Wailing senselessly without taking the time to understand simple technical and legal concepts is exactly why you _are_ going to lose all your bloody privacy.

This is no different from people who freak-out because someone "hot-links" images on their site. They can be directly linked because they're bloody served that way, but good luck explaining this incredibly simple concept to somebody more interested in freaking out.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711568)

We don't want to be tracked but still want to be able to talk to people; which is why people carry phones in the first place.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711452)

FTFA:

Prominent signs should notify and seek consent from customers, he said.

Taking this to the letter implies that there is a way to opt out from the service... "I don't want to be tracked, please do not track this phone". Yet somehow I think that is wishful thinking, and the only way to opt out would be to switch off that phone (not that bad an idea anyway, I do it quite often), or to stay out of the malls (I already only to malls if I really have to, not as "entertainment" what many people do - particularly here in Hong Kong malls are considered a good destination for going out).

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711588)

Taking this to the letter implies that there is a way to opt out from the service...

There is: Switch off your phone.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711560)

They can do it anyway since there's cameras everywhere.

This just makes it easier. At least until they get good facial recognition.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711598)

Aha! I was wondering when this would happen (or if it's already in use somewhere). A thing to remember is that each persons shopping basket is pretty much unique. Think panopticlick / browser tracking. "They" already have mobile positioning data (a veritable goldmine!), so correlating peoples positions is a solved problem (politician A meeting prostitute X in hotel Z again). Now they can tell which brand of condoms the man is using. To reiterate: when you're allowed to match mobile phone location with shopping logs, it is the same as putting a name on almost every shopping basket. (There is no such thing as anonymized data, or to be more precise, perfectly anonymized data is perfectly useless. Didn't this come up before when some anonymized movie ratings were made available?)

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711606)

The version [adelaidenow.com.au] that was given in Adelaide provides some details---the ID that is tracked appears to a temporary one, rather than the IMEI.

Re:Surveilance society anyone? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711740)

Great, thanks. Now I know next time I go shopping in Oz I will pop the battery out of my phone.

WTF is up with companies these days who think they can track everywhere you go and everything you do? If this is not privacy invasion, I don't know what is. Pretty soon every child born will get their global tracking implant right after birth so they can be tracked throughout their life.

Please repeat, 1984 is NOT an instruction manual.

We're so beyond the concept of "privacy invasion" in this world that it is almost laughable trying to think how we could even remotely get back to a shadow of that definition without causing global collapse. How many companies today solely exist to thrive on gathering, buying, or selling your "privacy" data?

Hell, Google built an empire just indexing it all.

Downgrade options (1)

WinterKnight (104994) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711750)

I wonder if it's too late to switch back to the old pager.

T3000 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711032)

bet you it's a Westfield - probably Chermside...
First the payment of parking, next tracking, finally IC brain implants.

Re:T3000 (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711108)

Either Westfield Chermside or Carindale. That's my guess, anyway.

Re:T3000 (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711124)

bet you it's a Westfield - probably Chermside...

+1 to Westfield. I'm surprised Gerry Harvey hasn't considered this.

Re:T3000 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711190)

I'm surprised Gerry Harvey hasn't considered this.

He might if he had any customers left.

Re:T3000 (1)

cammoblammo (774120) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711238)

+1 to Westfield. I'm surprised Gerry Harvey hasn't considered this.

Gerry Harvey will rant about how all the overseas companies are screwing you for your info it on Today Tonight, then introduce his own version of the scheme two weeks later with great fanfare and Australian made stickers. Bogans everywhere will line up to buy a second phone, just to feel the love.

Re:T3000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711394)

There are shopping centres that aren't than Westfield in Australia?

Re:T3000 (2)

Harlequin80 (1671040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711708)

I'll put money on it being chermside - they are installing the electronic car gates and charging for parking over the coming months. They are going to want to measure exactly the changes in shopper behaviour as they increase the parking costs so they can see how far they can charge before people baulk.

From TFA (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711132)

"Ms Baddeley said mobile phone monitoring, already operating in the UK and US, would help the struggling retail sector develop marketing campaigns and identify the best mix of shops in centres."

I'd love to know where, so I can avoid the places like the fucking plague.

Re:From TFA (2)

mrbester (200927) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711188)

Indeed, a citation is needed. Fuck the "struggling retail sector", you don't track me unless you're in possession of a warrant.

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711442)

You keep believing that.

Re:From TFA (3, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711200)

"Ms Baddeley said mobile phone monitoring, already operating in the UK and US, would help the struggling retail sector develop marketing campaigns and identify the best mix of shops in centres."

The retail sector is struggling because I can buy almost everything cheaper from overseas as long as the AUD is above ~0.75 USD. It's currently over 1.00 USD.

The last person who suggested they reduce prices to be competitive was beaten to death by the Duopoly of Coles/Myer and Woolsworth. Then the corpse was kicked by Gerry Harvey (who seems to enjoy beating dead horses).

Re:From TFA (1)

otie (915090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711284)

The last person who suggested they reduce prices to be competitive was beaten to death by the Duopoly of Coles/Myer and Woolsworth. Then the corpse was kicked by Gerry Harvey (who seems to enjoy beating dead horses).

So a horse suggested that retailers should reduce prices? Australia is stranger than I thought.

Re:From TFA (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711294)

The last person who suggested they reduce prices to be competitive was beaten to death by the Duopoly of Coles/Myer and Woolsworth. Then the corpse was kicked by Gerry Harvey (who seems to enjoy beating dead horses).

So a horse suggested that retailers should reduce prices? Australia is stranger than I thought.

Mate, no human is willing to staff their boards.

Little known fact, BHP is run by a Wombat.

Re:From TFA (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711224)

..against the law in the UK and USA ... and so not already operating

Seriously, this is cheaper than asking people ...? No this is a way of selling expensive technology to struggling retailers to do something that can give then no more than less obtrusive methods

Difference between this and cameras (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711148)

Cameras have a hard time IDing people, but this technique will let the shop owners connect the data of multiple shoppings to one person.

Re:Difference between this and cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711244)

Cameras used in combination with phones and purchase data (if you were dumb enough to use a card while not wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and leaving your phone off) would allow the lookup and direct marketing to individuals.

Illegal wiretap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711154)

So, taking a picture of a public servant working in a public place with the photographer and camera in plain sight is illegal wiretap but snooping personal details from a mobile phone surreptitiously and without notice is perfectly OK. Is it just me or is it OK for the government and corporations to do anything they want to ordinary people but its not OK for ordinary people to do anything but consume and pay interest on their debts?

More snooping..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711160)

Smartphones weren't intended for fart apps only

Re:More snooping..... (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711308)

It's not just smartphones. This can track any phone, presuming it's just snooping for IMEI numbers in GSM communications.

Westfield's experiment (1)

daktari (1983452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711164)

The developer of the software behind this [pathintelligence.com] lists a sample of the data they can collect.

While I can one of the first to be concerned about private data becoming available for marketing purposes, I don't mind as much if the data is not linked to me personally. That is what seems to be the case here: the mall can track my whereabouts as long as they do not know it's me (by linking my credit card purchases to my phone for instance). If this information is gathered in this (anonymous) way, I do not mind as much. If they can link the data to me personally, I shall be bothered...

And yes, Westfield is the name of the company testing this software right now.

Re:Westfield's experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711698)

Who says they won't link it? There are ways to deduce your identity.

As you said, linking it to your credit card should be fairly easy: correlate phone position with credit card usage. Maybe link the RFID tag of whatever you just bought with your CC, so they can track the tag to make sure one purchase is enough to reliably identify your phone.

After that, they can easily deduce your relationship to other "data sets", e.g. those who accompany you often are likely your spouse, friends, family; more destinct determination based on shops you visit (together or separate).

Look at the prices of this "service". They have to make to most of it and get that money back somehow.

Re:Westfield's experiment (1)

UnoriginalBoringNick (1562311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711766)

For those customers wishing to purchase a Deluxe FootPath solution for a mall we have provided an indicative price list below. For example, a 55,000 square metre mall that was interested in purchasing a full FootPath solution with data year round (52 weeks) the price would be 69k euros per year. Included within that subscription is information on:

        * Visitor traffic to the mall (by hour, day, month and year)
        * Visitor dwell time at the mall (by day, month and year)
        * Exposure to advertising within the mall
        * Frequency of visit to the mall
        * Shopper hours at the mall
        * Traffic to each retailer within the mall
        * Linkages between retailers in the mall
        * Shopper flow around the mall
        * Nationality of visitor to the mall
        * Visitor traffic by level and zone across the mall
      * Interactions between the mall and neighbouring areas (such as adjacent town centres or competing centres)

So the data that the mall pays to gather from its customers without its customers informed consent is potentially used to aid the mall's competition?

s/Nationality/Probable country of residence/ A minor detail unless you happen to be an ex-pat working in $CountryRepresentingATerroristThreat

Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act (5, Interesting)

bool2 (1782642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711172)

In Australia, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 explicitly prohibits this activity.
Section 7 - Telecommunications not to be intercepted

A person shall not:

  • (a) intercept;
  • (b) authorize, suffer or permit another person to intercept; or
  • (c) do any act or thing that will enable him or her or another person to intercept;

a communication passing over a telecommunications system.

This seems like a pretty clear violation to me. (note, that even though it is data traffic between the phone and the cell and not voice, it still violates the above.)

Re:Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Ac (1)

Wattos (2268108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711250)

While I totally agree with you, the lawyers of the mall might not. They probably will come up with some lame excuse, quoting a dictionary that:

intercept
verb
[with object]
        obstruct (someone or something) so as to prevent them from continuing to a destination:
                    intelligence agencies intercepted a series of telephone callsI intercepted Edward on his way to work
        chiefly Physicscut off or deflect (light or other electromagnetic radiation):
                    a second prism can be swung in to intercept the light beam
        Mathematics(of a line or surface) mark or cut off (part of a space , line , or surface).

source: http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/intercept [oxforddictionaries.com]

They will probably argue that they do not prevent the signal from reaching its destination

Re:Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Ac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711352)

Which is why the Act (Sect 6) explicitly defines intercept to mean:
(1) For the purposes of this Act, but subject to this section, interception of a communication passing over a telecommunications system consists of listening to or recording, by any means, such a communication in its passage over that telecommunications system without the knowledge of the person making the communication.

So all they need to do is put up signs saying they are doing it, and it's fine.

Re:Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Ac (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711468)

If you had read even the summary you would have known that they do not violate that provision.

They're tracking phones, no more no less. Just tracking where a phone is, using the radio signals sent by the phone. They don't listen to what the communication is, just keep track of where the signal comes from, and as such where the phone is. It's not even necessary for people to talk on the phone, just having it on is all they need for this.

Re:Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Ac (2)

Wattos (2268108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711506)

From the article:

One unnamed Queensland shopping centre is next month due to become the first in the nation to fit receivers that detect unique mobile phone radio frequency codes to pinpoint location within two metres.

how do they know the radio frequency codes without actually reading the signal? Communication in this sense means the phone signal, not the actual talking on the phone. It doesnt matter whether you are actually talking on the phone.

Re:Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Ac (3, Informative)

devent (1627873) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711706)

That's why /.'s rating system is for the ass. Why his score is 1 and not +5?
Anyway, even if you do not read the signals from the phone, it is intercepting anyway. You have to receive the signals from the phone somehow to get the position, so it is intercepting. There is also a definition of all terms used.

"communication" includes conversation and a message, and any part of a conversation or message, whether:
                                          (a) in the form of: (i) speech, music or other sounds;(ii) data;(iii) text;(iv) visual images, whether or not animated; or (v) signals; or (b) in any other form or in any combination of forms.

So just a signal is a communication passing over a telecommunications system as defined by law. It is not necessary that the signal is decoded.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/taaa1979410/s7.html [austlii.edu.au]

Re:Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Ac (2)

Any Web Loco (555458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711702)

As far as I can tell, their system tracks using radio signals, and intercepting radio signals is specifically excluded from this provision. From the Act:

"telecommunications network" means a system, or series of systems, for carrying communications by means of guided or unguided electromagnetic energy or both, but does not include a system, or series of systems, for carrying communications solely by means of radiocommunication."

(my emphasis)

Source: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/taaa1979410/s5.html#telecommunications_network [austlii.edu.au]

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711192)

Federal Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said the Privacy Act applied only if the information collected identified individuals.

Hmm, let's see if they qualify.

Path Intelligence national sales manager Kerry Baddeley stressed that no mobile phone user names or numbers could be accessed.

Sounds good so far

One unnamed Queensland shopping centre is next month due to become the first in the nation to fit receivers that detect unique mobile phone radio frequency codes to pinpoint location within two metres.

Hmm. That's close, but still doesn't identify you. Looks ok at this point.

It's much less intrusive or invasive than existing people-counting methods, for instance CCTV cameras and number plate monitoring.

Ahhhhhh, but when combining cell tracking (to 2 metres) and CCTV's, you are now tracking identified individuals!

Re:The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. (1)

toetagger (642315) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711222)

What do you think happens when you pay with your credit card? Or when you pull onto the parking lot with your car's license plate on camera? Oh, if they are not sure which one of those family members it is, then just ring the biggest suspect's phone, and see if they pick up - simple!

rename "Airplane mode" "Shopping mode" (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711202)

It seems to track IMEI numbers being broadcast by mobile phones.

Not PII (personally identifying info) unless they merge the data with mobile carrier's data, which I find unlikely (yes, that's my naÃvite making a rare showing).

I'm not sure this is worse than the cameras that they already use to track shoppers' movements, which coupled with facial recognition software could be more invasive.

However, I don't care for it and now have yet one more excuse to *not* go shopping at major retailers. Hopefully more people will adopt my non-consumer lifestyle, but I highly doubt that (whew, that naÃvite didn't last long).

Re:rename "Airplane mode" "Shopping mode" (1)

toetagger (642315) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711264)

So they have your picture from camera, they can see how you walk and move from video, they know your car's license plate, they know which shops you go to, when and where you pay (via your phone), and if you pay with credit card, they know who you are as well. Who cares if this is PII or not? A marketer has everything they need. Example: "Oh wow, it looks like this person is a shopaholic, they are spending money like crazy! Let's toe their car to the other side of the mall so that they spent more time here!" Next thing you know, the shops sales team will start running after you on the parking lot...

Re:rename "Airplane mode" "Shopping mode" (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711362)

Not a problem if we avoid shopping as a recreational activity.

When I go shopping for anything other than groceries, I take a list, buy what's on it, get the hell out. The GF hates taking me shopping.

I take pride in being a merchant's / marketer's worst nightmare (haven't wandered about in a retail shopping complex in *years* except Costco, where I buy ... groceries).

Main thrust of this & my original message:

Avoid shopping as a recreational activity.

Or at least set phone to Airplane Mode and maybe wear a face-obscuring hat. And park away from the parking lot to avoid license plate photos.

If that's too much hassle, avoid shopping as a recreational activity, or choose smaller, independent retailers.

Re:rename "Airplane mode" "Shopping mode" (1)

andrewbaldwin (442273) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711532)

At last a voice of sanity.

Just buy what you want/need when you want/need it.

I've never understood this "OMG Advertisers will know all about me!" -- just because a marketer targets you with adverts you don't have to act on them. Adverts are an invitation to trade - not a direct order..

Personally speaking, I choose what I buy based on need,features and value for money; if I consider adverts at all, it's generally in a negative way (if they can afford to spend serious amounts subsidising TV, radio etc then the price is too high)

Re:rename "Airplane mode" "Shopping mode" (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711340)

They don't need to merge with carrier data to associate your IMEI with PII.

Presumably you go to a mall to shop. If you buy things with plastic, they can correlate purchase records with their IMEI snooping records. The more you shop there, the more they can correlate, until it's pretty close to 100% accurate.

If you buy a phone from a store in the mall.... they have an opportunity to really lock that one in.

If you have one of these new phones with Near Field Communications for buying things, I guess that's just an instant bust...

Re:rename "Airplane mode" "Shopping mode" (1)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711614)

This [adelaidenow.com.au] article claims that it is not the IMEI but the Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identify [wikipedia.org] (TMSI) that is tracked, the key word here being "Temporary".

Re:rename "Airplane mode" "Shopping mode" (1)

jquirke (473496) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711626)

The IMEI is usually sent over an encrypted channel, after the CIPHERING MODE COMMAND has been sent in GSM (although the specifications do not mandate this).

It is not possible to track your long term movements. GSM and UMTS use what is known as the TMSI [wikipedia.org] - the Temporary Mobile Subscriber Identity, which is a 32-bit temporary identifier which may not persist more than a few hours at a time.

Your IMSI (international mobile subscriber identity) is only ever sent over the air in clear text in 'recovery' situations, where your mobility context cannot be retrieved from the previous VLR. Otherwise, new TMSIs are allocated over an encrypted channel, so it is extremely difficult to establish a chain of TMSIs.

So in short, it is not possible to establish your long term visiting trends, but it is possible to establish the length of time you spend in a shopping centre (as phones periodically re-register themselves with the network, even in the same location area), if your phone is otherwise idle.

Faraday cage (1)

lazykoala (2477144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711246)

I could just put my mobile phone in a Faraday cage-case, although I guess that would defeat the purpose of carrying the mobile in the first place. Damn these cunning shopping centres.

Re:Faraday cage (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711674)

Wouldn't it be simpler to just switch your phone off?

They're a bit slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711266)

We' had this in the UK for at least two years (See http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05/20/tracking_phones/). I know the system has been in place since early days in the Southampton WestQuay and Portsmouth Gunwharf Quays centres. The aerials are not exactly subtle once you start looking for them.

Re:They're a bit slow (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711434)

I actually found myself wanting this installed in my house the other night. There was a robbery and assault at the end of the street. The police were canvassing for witnesses, and I hadn't seen anything but the aftermath, but he asked if I had CCTV (which I don't). It occurred to me that snooping the IMEI numbers of passing mobile phones was probably a lot more effective and unambiguous. I started having thoughts about combining one of those new open-source GSM stacks with a femtocell.

It's actually quite a reassuring idea, when it's not a corporation in charge of it. It's creepy because they are using it to replace that personal relationship that shopkeepers used to share with their customers.

"Hi there Mr B! How's your daughter E? I got some of these new in today, I thought you might like to try them."

Read this out in the voices of i) Friendly Mom & Pop shopkeep who you've known for years ii) Some kid in a headset you've never seen before.

I think they're shooting themselves in the foot.

Re:They're a bit slow (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711582)

Currently the records of mobile phones will give the Police a pretty good idea about what phones was in the area at the time; but unlike you, they have figured a couple of flaws with that:
1. Who says the perp has a mobile phone?
2. Even iff 1. how do you guarentee any records are actually correct? Sim card cloning, stolen phones etc.

Also, tracking people in public space is most likely violating heaps of laws (a supermarket / mall tracking whats going on within their own property is usually ok, since it's private property).

Already used in some places in other countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711268)

I know for a fact that this is used at least in my country (not Australia). Based on Bluetooth technology the data is anonymous. I think this is the company, not the UK based one, so there are multiple solutions on this and they are already implemented. http://www.rapidbluesolutions.com/solutions [rapidbluesolutions.com]

Just because you can ... (1)

trydk (930014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711272)

Does not mean you must.

This goes for about anything you can think of, not just the invasion of privacy.

Prior art (1)

fishicist (777318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711350)

Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, UK has been doing this since about 2008 (not that this makes it in any way ok).

Some blog [cornellfinch.com]
BBC News video [bbc.co.uk]

The unwashed masses don't understand (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711372)

Path Intelligence national sales manager Kerry Baddeley stressed that no mobile phone user names or numbers could be accessed.

"All we do is log the movement of a phone around an area and aggregate this to provide trend data for businesses,'' she said.

Having worked for telcos many years, I know there is no way to get detailed information from a cell phone without hacking it or getting the user to install a tracking app. I'm actually surprised that they even found a way to identify a phone by passively monitoring it's signals, and am quite curious as to how they accomplish this.

This is no more intrusive than the sensor belts used to monitor traffic flow on a highway, and is not worth panicing over.

Go back to worrying about Crackbook cookies -- those really do track you as an identified individual.

On the plus side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711496)

...maybe they'll be able to track me walking 100 yards out of my way to avoid the damn Dead Sea Salt salespeople, and will eject them from their malls.

Smokescreen (2)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711572)

None of this technical mumbo-jumbo is going on. The gov is hiring 'roos to track shoppers to lure them to secluded spots where the drop bears can mug them. And they haven't even gotten around to placing the eucalyptus tree bombs yet. Don't even mention the Commando Platypus Squads... shudder.

WTF?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37711634)

In Germany it's illegal to use an open, unencrypted Wifi 'cause it's considered interception of a transmission by a 3rd party, and some Corporation want's to intercept encrypted GSM Communications? This would be illegal in allmost every civilized country on the planet, isn't in in Autralia?!

this might already be used in a lot of locations (1)

jperl (1453911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711676)

The technique is nothing new. Already 3 years ago there was an article [slashdot.org] about this.
I fear this is already widely used in some countries without people even knowing.

and the next step is (1)

TESTNOK (2476330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711692)

I can't help thinking about Minority Report, where the shopping centre's billboards scanned Tom Cruise's irises to adapt their advertisements to suite his recent shopping behaviour. I guess we're still lucky with only phone monitoring; we can see were it's going, though...

Why they do that? (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 2 years ago | (#37711770)

I don't really get it why they invest millions in CCTV cameras, face recognitions, and now in tracking of mobile phones. I'm pretty sure it is not to get more customers to the most shopping centres.

Because if they wanted more customers, all they have to do is a) extend the opening time to up 10pm (I was in Sydney and it was a real surprise to me that most shopping centres close at 8pm or earlier. If you work up until 5pm, then you have 3 hours max. for the mall. Or like me who study until 4:30pm, then go home, it's 6pm, then go to mall it's 6:30pm, then you have 1,5 hour in the mall. So the big buildings for the shopping malls are mostly empty the whole day).
And b) drop the prices.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?