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Malls Track Shoppers' Cell Phones On Black Friday

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the unseen-mechanized-eye dept.

Businesses 198

antdude writes in with a story about two U.S. malls that plan on tracking shoppers' movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones this Friday. "The management company of both malls, Forest City Commercial Management, says personal data is not being tracked. 'We won't be looking at singular shoppers,' said Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, vice president of digital strategy for Forest City. 'The system monitors patterns of movement. We can see, like migrating birds, where people are going to.' Still, the company is preemptively notifying customers by hanging small signs around the shopping centers. Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones."

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Opt out (5, Insightful)

Elgonn (921934) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152404)

"Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones."
I guess by that metric people who don't go there are also opting out.

Re:Opt out (4, Interesting)

Robert Bowles (2733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152578)

Suppose you root through people's trash and search for financial information. As long as you promise not to use it to single anyone out, its not malevolent. Anyone who doesn't like it can "opt-out" by keeping the trash in their house.

Re:Opt out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152916)

I have to anyway, you insensitive clod - we've just had 20cm of snow land!

Re:Opt out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153242)

Or by shredding it.

Re:Opt out (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153660)

I choose to opt in by having my trash shipped to Forest City malls.

Re:Opt out (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154140)

Well that girl that was attacked last night, she should have put her self on the opt-out list. We assumed she was ok with it.

Re:Opt out (4, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153298)

Well, at least you chaps over in the US aren't alone. I submitted a story about six weeks ago [slashdot.org] about two malls in Australia that were using the exact same technology. It made the local papers here [news.com.au] , but never prominently.

It's okay, soon, we will forget about it and given that other countries are also doing it, we will accept it as the norm.

*sips coffee*

Re:Opt out (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154326)

CNN did cover it over here. They even brought up a point that they could track you wandering into Victoria's Secret and record how long you were in there.

I wish they had been less up-beat about it but the fact that it was even covered is ... well.. better than nothing.

Re:Opt out (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153936)

Do they honor Google's _nomap suffix for smartphones?

As an aside, I remember an article on here around a decade ago where the big thing was RFID tags, and how a mall could track shoppers by the unique combination of RFID tags passing by the scanner at any given time.

I guess cellphones make that other technology old hat these days. Haven't heard much about RFID on here lately.

opt out (5, Insightful)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152410)

>Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones.

I can opt out of billboards by not driving and staying at home. I can opt out of spam by not having an email account.

opt out, I don't think those words mean what you think they mean.

Re:opt out (0)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152750)

The billboard argument doesn't make sense. It's a sign...it doesn't do anything and too bad if you're feeling butthurt about *gasp* seeing billboards. A shopping mall is private property and completely avoidable. I don't remember the last time I was in one; yet, I spend thousands of dollars at local shops and online retailers like Amazon. Do without.

Re:opt out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152830)

Because it's a good thing amazon doesn't track where you go, and use that information for analyzing traffic patterns.

If that's why you stay out of the Mall and go to Amazon instead... to not get tracked... you sir are a moron.

Re:opt out (4, Informative)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152956)

Except Amazon's shit at it. They keep on trying to sell me stuff I've already bought from them. It's rare for me to want to buy the same DVD twice, despite what the MPAA wants (ie one copy of a DVD per person watching the movie)

Re:opt out (3, Informative)

jhobbs (659809) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154298)

I'm not exactly sure which country you are from, but here in the U.S. a billboard is never a "sign. . . [that] doesn't do anything."

There are billboards that recognize your car and greet you personally:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/29/business/media/29cooper.html [nytimes.com]

There are billboards that aggregate the fm radio stations being listen to in passing cars the show the advert most likely to target the largest percentage of passing drivers:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/27/business/media-business-advertising-new-billboards-sample-radios-cars-go-then-adjust.html [nytimes.com]

Interactive advertising inundates our modern lives. You're individual concerns aren't worth as much as the advertising dollars spent on you. No one cares that you feel like your privacy is being trampled, you're a target demographic and consumer. That makes your interests important only if your spending money. Opting out only makes advertisers not care what your opinion is because you are a "fringe demographic".

On a personal note, I still hate interactive movie posters. Ever since I walked past a poster for Step-Brothers and Will Ferrel scarred the piss outta me by suddenly coming to life and badgering me to come see the movie.

Re:opt out (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152780)

I can "opt out" by telling the retails to go fuck themselves.

In fact, I think I'll call a few of them right now and tell them why they just lost customers. I can "opt out" by taking my business elsewhere.

Re:opt out (4, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153432)

I suggest you call your friends first and then the mall; boycotting is pointless if one is the only person doing it.

singular shoppers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152412)

I thought Cingular no longer existed!

Not really an opt out, is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152420)

We are recording your conversation, you can opt out by not speaking.

Jammers? (3, Insightful)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152446)

What will happen if you walk around with a jammer in your pocket/bag?

Re:Jammers? (1)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152474)

Well, they're illegal, so...

Would be pretty god damned funny though.

Re:Jammers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153096)

What if it is not a jammer per se, but a broken radio transmitter stuck on a certain frequency.

Re:Jammers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153920)

Your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Jammers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153052)

I would be ready to slip into comfort and fall asleep at a moment's notice, would miss my pillow and blanket, though...
OH, you said jammER, sorry, nevermind...

felt a slight ghost of Mitch Hedburg on that one, may he rest in peace.

Re:Jammers? (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153672)

Jammer? Hell, I was curious to see what would happen if I swapped out the SIM card from the phone every time I walk into a different store, or perhaps at random? Gather the whole family's pile o' SIMs, and maybe a couple of expired ones (they still work for emergency calls, so odds are good their signal will pick up).

I figure if enough folks did that in one mall (say, 100-200 people?), the algorithms would show enough crap data to basically have the management demanding their money back from the company that sold it to 'em.

Even better... I wonder what would happen if you and enough cohorts went to the mall, selected some bits to buy at different stores, walked up to the counter, and proclaimed to the cashier that "this is what I would have bought if your mall wasn't so invasive of my privacy by tracking my cell signal", then walk out, leaving the goods on the counter unpaid-for.

Re:Jammers? (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154120)

You'll earn the title of asshole?

Not as abusive YET (4, Insightful)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152456)

But some day soon, it will be.
When there's a large enough pool of data on given subset of users "Anon" F through Q, analytical processes and programs will be able to determine when a member of said subset appears somewhere.

Using inter-subset heuristics, this information could be refined further to detail the habits of the individuals, such as Anon M.

While still technically "Anonymous", it would require a very, very small pool of data and additional research/tracking to determine who that Anonymous user actually is.

The technology is almost (if not already) there, and the real setback at the moment is simply not having all of that data yet.

Re:Not as abusive YET (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152570)

So cell phones are super Cookies?

You can opt out by not going to those malls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152486)

You can opt out by not going to those malls!

move (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152494)

We are tracking your movements. You can opt out by not moving.

enhance your shopping experience? (4, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152510)

Still, the company is preemptively notifying customers by hanging small signs around the shopping centers. Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones.

Ya, but the sign shown doesn't mention turning off your phone... Just to visit the Management Office or visit their website if you have questions. Of course, visiting the office will entail getting tracked. Also, I'm not sure how tracking our phones will help "enhance your shopping experience".

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (3, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152574)

It will enhance the mall's experience of you shopping.
Just like those "customer loyalty" thingies. Do you really thing they are for *your* benefit?

They will use it to improve their ability to get money out of your pocket and into theirs.
Why do I want to help them do that??

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152636)

But the way they uses this information to get money is by offering things people want.

Dude, they don't use it to grab money out of your wallet.
They don't care about YOU. they care about the patterns of movement in the mall.
Benefits to you:
A) Better mall layout
B) better crowd control
C) Accurate information on shopping habits
D) more stuff more people want.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (2)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152962)

And the purpose of all those "improvements"?
To make it easier to spend money.
And to make you and me feel better about spending more money.

The end result is the same. Less money in my pocket. And I'm supposed to be happy about that.
Just like a good little consumer should....

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153264)

That's one side of the argument. On the other side, I want there to be shit in the mall that I actually want. There's damn near NOTHING at a mall that I actually want. Hell, I'd make donations to somewhere if it meant a store selling Thinkgeek and other related items came about.

So yeah, you can keep your malls with worthless crap that nobody could ever want (yet all the proles seem to love buying anyway). I'd rather have a mall with actual decent things in it.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (4, Insightful)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153326)

The end result is the same. Less money in my pocket. And I'm supposed to be happy about that.

To be fair, the end result is twofold: less money in your pocket and more "things" in your house.

If you engage in a commercial transaction that does not provide added value to you, then you are entirely at fault.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153448)

If you engage in a commercial transaction that does not provide added value to you, then you are entirely at fault.

I used to think that. But then I realised that if one entity is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence you to make that decision, it isn't really fair any more. They aren't putting a gun to your head, but they are actively attempting to manipulate you using resources far beyond what you have access to and that's dirty pool.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (2)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153818)

Apple spends a shitton on marketing, and I have never bought an Apple product. Either I am a far stonger willed person than you, or marketing doesn't control me 100%. You decide.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153748)

D) more stuff more people want.

How's that work when they don't have anything I want in the mall?

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153780)

Your item D is incorrect. It should be:
D) Only the stuff most people want.

Try shopping for an obscure item. We're close to that already. Retailers don't seem to understand that poor inventory drives people to shop online. Case in point: I've been looking for a 77mm red #25 filter. None of the local camera stores stock it so I'm forced to buy from one of the big online camera dealers. My local retailers lose.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38154210)

D) more stuff more people want.

Problem is, what people "want" is the product of a myriad of manipulative marketing machinations, of which this tactic is just another facet.

Did you think that the average consumer's acquisition of mountains of redundant if not completely useless crap was some kind of biological imperative?

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152808)

Which is why, by law, it should be required that 99.5% of all profits gained by this sort of activity, including residuals (ie. selling the data to some other company) go to the person who the data was mined from. Anything less than that should be called grand larceny and the company, it's senior executives and board of directors should be imprisoned and the company given onerous fines.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (4, Interesting)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153044)

The difference between the loyalty thingy and this is that the loyalty thingy pays you a nominal amount. The amount you get paid varies from company to company, and usually you can only buy from that company. It's purely an opt-in process.

This on the other hand gives you nothing - and it's opt out in the one of the most invasive ways. Most people carry phones because they want to be contactable.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (2)

mccrew (62494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153598)

Do you really thing they are for *your* benefit?

Yep. Whenever anything begins with the phrase "For Your Convenience" you can be damned sure that it's for their convenience, not yours.

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (3, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154132)

That reminds me of something it took my wife the longest thing to figure out. When the grocery store near us introduced self-checkout, I refused to use them even when I only had one or two items. My wife could not understand why. I explained to her it was a matter of principle. When they introduced them, they started to run these announcements over the in store intercom about every five minutes that said something along the line of, "For your convenience, we now have self-checkout lanes." I knew full well that they did not put the self-checkout lanes in for my convenience. They put the self-checkout lanes in to save money on cashiers. Of course, it has turned out not to have worked out that way for them, as a recent article on slashdot mentioned (I wonder how much that has to do with their attempt to mislead their customers as to why they were doing it).

Re:enhance your shopping experience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152590)

"Also, I'm not sure how tracking our phones will help "enhance your shopping experience"."

If people don't go to the very bottom of the store (and see all their offerings) they'll check what they bought and if meaningful numbers come up, these items too will be moved to the back of the store where milk, bread and meat are.
For example: if hundreds of people just come to buy batteries stacked at the cashiers, they will move those to the bread section.

Allowed by the FCC? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152514)

Does the FCC actually allow this?

Re:Allowed by the FCC? (2)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153522)

Does the FCC actually allow this?

It doesn't have to. Tracking cellphones can be done passively. FCC lacks jurisdiction when you don't generate "communications".

What you may be looking for is a consumer protection bureau.

Re:Allowed by the FCC? (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153902)

Not true. The FCC has banned listening to the cellphone bands for a very long time now.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Scanner_(radio)#Legal_issues_in_the_US [wikimedia.org]

I'm interested in where you would buy the equipment to do this. Who is selling lots of small networked cell phone receivers that would pull the IMEI from the datastream? How cheap are they that a shopping mall can buy a box full? And are those same receivers also able to listen in to the conversations, or are they only monitoring the control channel?

Re:Allowed by the FCC? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153850)

I wonder how it flies with wiretapping laws. They're intercepting a signal that wasn't meant for them and retrieving data from it.

Get used to it (4, Insightful)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152522)

I'd be surprised if other large commercial destinations (malls, amusement parks, sporting venues, etc) aren't using this tech already. It's not like these two malls invented it themselves, and even if they're the first to use it, it must have been beta tested somewhere.

I think we can agree that the "we won't be looking at singular shoppers" reassurance is completely ridiculous. As though there's some algorithm to digitally count the devices on a network and track their locations without, umm, actually counting them? The only question is how long the data is stored.

At the same time, even opting out now is pointless, as we've established that the phone company, the police, and the FBI all have access to your phone's location tracking information. It's a bit late to worry about whether or not to use things like Apple's "Find My Friends" app. Best to avoid owning a cell phone altogether if you're worried about being tracked, or at least leave it behind (and turn it off) when you don't want to be followed.

Re:Get used to it (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152662)

"I think we can agree that the "we won't be looking at singular shoppers" reassurance is completely ridiculous"

why? YOUR movement is of little value, the groups movement habits is of great value.

They don't care that you lingers in front of victory secrets* for 10 minutes.
Yes, you count the signals, not who ti's tied to. What? you think they are cracking the signal to find out the Jane Doe bought shoes?

*Victoria Secrets - Giving men a reason to go to the mall for 20 years.

Re:Get used to it (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152774)

why? YOUR movement is of little value, the groups movement habits is of great value.

That depends on who you're asking, I suppose.

What if trends show that you, at let's say 4 out of 5 visits to the mall, end up going to the Burger King after you're done shopping at, say, GAP.

Wouldn't it be awfully nice, for Burger King that is, if you could be reminded about the new burger / free soda / two for one deal / whatever at Burger King when you exit GAP so that your 4 out of 5 statistic can be bumped up to, maybe, 9 out of 10?

Of course it could have the opposite effect.. you could be enraged that you just got spammed and you decide to stop going altogether.

Either way, it's interesting information to have on individuals. If all they wanted was e.g. traffic flow analysis they could already use the security cameras for the purpose (unless there's some legislation that says they can't).

Re:Get used to it (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152860)

Wouldn't it be awfully nice, for Burger King that is, if you could be reminded about the new burger / free soda / two for one deal / whatever at Burger King when you exit GAP so that your 4 out of 5 statistic can be bumped up to, maybe, 9 out of 10?

No, actually it wouldn't. It would be god damn annoying. But then I don't shop at the places I am told to, I shop at the places I want to; and I only buy things when I want / need them, not when they are "OMG ON SALE BUY NOW!".

Re:Get used to it (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153532)

Either way, it's interesting information to have on individuals.

Yes. It is fundamentally naive to think that given the choice, marketers will turn down the option to collect more information on potential customers. Once that information is collected it is ripe for abuse - by the marketers, by their disgruntled employees and by the government.

Re:Get used to it (1)

JustNilt (984644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153772)

*Victoria Secrets - Giving men a reason to go to the mall for 20 years.

OT here:

Heck with men. My 8 year old stepson walked by one and said, "Let's go in THERE!" Yeah, we're going to have fun with this kid, I tell ya. =D

Re:Get used to it (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153908)

Yeah, we're going to have fun with this kid

You going to show him some porn and then take him to the whorehouse? Eh, don't answer. I really don't want to know.

Re:Get used to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38154084)

Eh, don't answer. I really don't want to know.

Are you from fucking canada or just talk like a spastic ?

Re:Get used to it (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153138)

Many commercial free wifi services do similar tracking and even eavesdrop on the data passing through them (although of those with disclaimer portal pages, none have mentioned this). I always thought it was odd that so many of them run full-blown Windows...

http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_GX/global/industries/technology-media-telecommunications/tmt-predictions-2011/telecommunications/16629ece1407d210VgnVCM2000001b56f00aRCRD.htm [deloitte.com]

Anonymous? So Far... (5, Interesting)

zentec (204030) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152526)

TFA:

"The tracking system, called FootPath Technology, works through a series of antennas positioned throughout the shopping center that capture the unique identification number assigned to each phone (similar to a computer's IP address), and tracks its movement throughout the stores. ... And it doesn't collect any personal details associated with the ID, like the user's name or phone number. That information is fiercely protected by mobile carriers, and often can be legally obtained only through a court order. "

Yet. You can bet your sweet bippy that while the mall can't get the identifying information, the mall *will* sell it to the carriers who do have the information. This would be a marketing goldmine for the carriers, and one they could not help but to exploit for fun and most importantly, profit.

I would opt out by simply not shopping at that mall. My cellular phone is for my own convenience and one that I pay to maintain, it isn't so companies can figure out where I shop and give them incentive to try to get me to be a good little consumer and spend all my money.

My tolerance for this kind of thing is getting lower each time I read stories like this. More and more, companies seem to view the public as sheep to be shorn without any expectation of privacy, rights nor recourse.

Re:Anonymous? So Far... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152618)

With enough work and clever placement of the antennas, you could probably correlate the id with purchase history by comparing purchase time data with proximity to the respective till. Who needs carrier data when you can make your own?

Re:Anonymous? So Far... (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152686)

wtf are you talking about? the phone company can get the information already, AND they don't give a shit what you buy.

This is like the crazy phone company conspiracy of the 70s.
They collect th data, and make the mall experience better. How the FUCK is the sheering sheep?

thats not what he meant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153564)

The mall knows [A] your shopping habits (the tracking info they collected) and [B] the unique ID of your phone, but not [C] who you are (your name, address, etc.)

The phone carrier knows [B] the unique ID of your phone and [C] who you are (name, address, ...)

Third parties want [A] and [C]. The mall can't sell it to them, but they CAN sell [A]+[B] to the phone carriers who can then use that info to sell [A]+[C] to everyone else. That's the goldmine the parent was referring to.

Re:Anonymous? So Far... (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153842)

wtf are you talking about? the phone company can get the information already, AND they don't give a shit what you buy.

They might be interested if you spend a lot of time in rival phone companies' stores.

Re:Anonymous? So Far... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152722)

Why would the carriers need the information? They already have it thanks to their cell towers, and it's not difficult to identify which store the customer is in either. Even my rural town's mall has its stores identified on Google Maps. And we know they have this capability because they are mandated by law to have it in many places in order to assist emergency operators in identifying the location of a cell phone making an emergency call. Most smartphones have a form of A-GPS that leverages the same ability.

A better way to opt out... (2)

gweilo8888 (921799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152540)

...would be to turn around and walk back out of the mall in question, then go shop somewhere else that better respects your privacy rights.

Re:A better way to opt out... (1)

MonkeyTrial (713192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152560)

A competitor to these two malls should offer a "tracking free shopping experience" and take business away from the other malls.

They could have a commercial with a bunch of grey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152640)

suited mindless drones, a talking head on a large screen, security in SWAT gear and a lady with breasts that bounce running down towards the screen with a giant hammer. It'd be a fucking awesome commercial.

(Ironically, many of these phones being tracked are iPhones.)

Newfangled Shopping (3, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152600)

Back in the day, the malls had a person with a thumb-clicker counting people as they walked through doors. I didn't consider it a privacy issue. And I assume while I shop online that my movement is being tracked much more closely. But more to the point, shopping malls are going the way of the dodo. The Mall company may find it a pretty depressing set of data. http://themoderatevoice.com/27443/economys-latest-victim-shopping-malls-are-closing/ [themoderatevoice.com]

Re:Newfangled Shopping (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152902)

uh, thumb clickers are not at all the same as what it is here.

You know what it is here? it's not entirely unlike having a person go to the mall and upon entry to each "part" of the mall, having security take someone's drivers license, noting only the drivers license number number along with social security number and saying "oh don't worry, it's anonymized, you won't be identified" which is basically a blatant lie to people's faces.

Opt-In (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152612)

Why can't they ever make this kind of stuff opt-in. If you want to be tracked, you register your phone at the front desk. Maybe they could offer all shoppers who register a small discount. All other phones are ignored by the system.

Re:Opt-In (3, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152682)

I do find the many conflicting faces of slashdot amusing - on one hand, apparently connecting to an unsecured wifi network is perfectly acceptable because it's publicly broadcasting a signal, but on the other hand tracking a publicly broadcasted signal from a mobile phone is a big no-no.

Re:Opt-In (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152794)

I would prefer not to be tracked by any means. If I am being tracked, I could at least get something out of it.

Re:Opt-In (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152892)

I do find the many conflicting faces of slashdot amusing

You do realise that Slashdot is a web site where thousands of different people post their opinions and not a single person, right? And that one person who thinks A is probably not the same person who things not-A?

Re:Opt-In (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152926)

I thought I made it clear that I understood precisely that by commenting about the many conflicting faces...

Re:Opt-In (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153244)

I think it should be legal. That doesn't mean I like it. I also think calling it opt-out is disingenuous at best. It's easy to put a password on my wifi; not so easy to disable the UIN on my phone. Suggesting I turn off the phone is the same as suggesting I turn off the wifi: it misses the whole point of having the phone or the wifi. The two cases, while similar, are not the same, and reasonable people can have opinions that depend on the details of a particular case, not simply the superficial similarities.

Re:Opt-In (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153686)

I do find the many conflicting faces of slashdot amusing - on one hand, apparently connecting to an unsecured wifi network is perfectly acceptable because it's publicly broadcasting a signal, but on the other hand tracking a publicly broadcasted signal from a mobile phone is a big no-no.

Try looking past the surface. Those two positions are entirely consistent in the context of the balance of power.

When a megacorp collects data on individuals the megacorp is huge with resources vastly outclassing any of those people who themselves aren't even organized. When an individual uses an open wifi access point - at worst the balance of power is roughly equal - individual who operates the wifi and the individual using it, and in many cases it is a megacorp operating the wifi, significantly tilting the balance of power against the user.

This idea of looking at who has the power in order to determine fairness has plenty of precedent. For example, in contract disputes it is generally considered the author of the contract had the power so any ambiguities should be decided in the favor of the other party.

Re:Opt-In (1)

OdinOdin_ (266277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153756)

Yes but I can pick my MAC address with the wifi device and so I can keep changing it.

Tracking what? (2)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152628)

They cannot track cell phones but rather your wifi and Bluetooth MAC addresses.
Just switch them off and you are done.
Or Sue the mall management as an option.

Opt out of shopping there (1)

valley (240947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152670)

Telling people they can opt out by turning off their phones is not an option, and the only way to fight it is to opt out of shopping there. When will these tiny-minded corporations realize that we know our data has value, and you can't take it at will to use any way you see fit?

Re:Opt out of shopping there (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153876)

Meh. I routinely opt-out of being hassled by my family by turning off my cellphone. Two birds with one stone.

Contrast with Google WiFi Geolocation Opt-out (3, Insightful)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152708)

It's interesting to see the contrast in comments between this story, and the recent Google WiFi Geolocation Opt-Out story:
http://search.slashdot.org/story/11/11/15/1459208/google-to-allow-location-service-opt-out [slashdot.org]

While in the case of Google's geolocation services the common argument is that your SSID/MAC needn't be identifying and you're broadcasting it so one has no right to complain anyway... ...here it's almost the complete opposite. Here the broadcasted information is for one's own benefit (the ability to use a cell phone) and it doesn't matter that the information isn't necessarily identifying it's still evil to collect it.

This despite the SSID likely originating from a private (or business) residence, while your cellphone's signal is originating within another business' location.

Now obviously there are differences, and the people commenting may not be the same, but I wonder if what's really the difference isn't the fact that there's likely to be little benefit to somebody that cell phone signals are being tracked*, versus the major benefit of faster / less power-hungry geolocation from recording WiFi locations.

( * Supported by the notion that most people don't seem to take much issue with e.g. TomTom partnering with cell providers to detect traffic trends in order to warn users of their navigation devices/software of, among other, traffic jams - as obviously that's a major benefit to the user. )

Re:Contrast with Google WiFi Geolocation Opt-out (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153922)

IMHO, the difference is that SSID broadcast is your router saying "Look at me! I'm here!" whereas cell phone tracking requires the interception of communication that was meant to be private between the phone and the tower. Also, Google got into trouble when they accidentally captured active communication rather than just the broadcast. It's the technological equivalent of looking when someone shouts "Hey!" VS eavesdropping on a conversation between two people (plus the location tracking... which kinda makes it stalking).

Suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152728)

Simple.

1. Make larger versions of the signs and carry them around at the mall.
2. Find the antennas and 'modify' them so they have 'issues' working.
3. Find the management responsible for this and make a loud scene in front of a large group of people.
4. Make a licensing agreement regarding the tracking of your private cell phone and submit it to the mall upon arrival.

Of course, there are always other more 'classic' ways, like finding management's parking lot and flattening all their tires.

Re:Suggestions (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153896)

5. Discover that now you have to shop somewhere else.

If it sends data you are allowed to gather it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152760)

Since a cellphone is also a computer, is this true for all computer signals and ports? or are the rules different ?

You guys need to have some respect (-1, Offtopic)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152772)

You guys need to have some respect and stop calling it Black Friday.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(1939) [wikipedia.org]

The Black Friday fires of 13 January 1939, in Victoria, Australia, were considered one of the worst natural bushfires (wildfires) in the world, and certainly the single worst in Australian history as a measure of land affected. Almost 20,000 km (4,942,000 acres, 2,000,000 ha) of land was burnt, 71 people died, several towns were entirely destroyed.

That is completely unrelated (3, Interesting)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152912)

You need to just quit whining. "Black Friday" refers to Friday the 13th, or any Friday on which a catastrophe occurs. The only reason the day after Thanksgiving is called "Black Friday" is because the Philly PD started calling it that:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday_(shopping)#Origin_of_the_term [wikipedia.org]

JANUARY 1966 -- "Black Friday" is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. "Black Friday" officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.

Re:That is completely unrelated (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153150)

I thought it was an homage to the Steely Dan song.

Re:You guys need to have some respect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38154166)

OK, from now on I'm going to call it nigger Friday, after all the niggers that went over the hood of my truck last Friday. Happier now?

i'd leave all my cheap throwaway phones ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152840)

in a rest room! nothing like database pollution!

can get like 4-5 /,'ers (1)

planimal (2454610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152862)

to go hang out in a bathroom stall together for a few hours with their phones on?

Brainstorm ways to screw with the data (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38152880)

The first thing that pops into mind is strapping phones to RC cars and ferrets. I'm sure there is something better though. Someone come up with a tech solution that's only borderline illegal. GO GO GO!

hogwash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38152914)

they are tracking each person singularly and then mixing them together. Still means they were tracked individually.

Cellphone jammers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153104)

Do someone know if a cellphone jammer working in low power, not enough to jam real cellphones, will pollute the tracking system? Or a "cellphone emulator" which generates random id numbers?

of course for the hackers here (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153616)

this shopping season could prove to be very interesting for Forest City thanks to Ettus research, Gnu Radio, and the same wanton disregard for the privacy of major conglomerate shopping centers as the shopping centers themselves display toward private citizens.

http://gnuradio.org/redmine/projects/gnuradio/wiki [gnuradio.org] http://www.ettus.com/products [ettus.com] im not saying each cellphone is uniquely identifiable and that these characteristics could easily be script generated for an open source transceiver project that fits into a backpack with a netbook at a crowded shopping center, or that transmitting billions and billions of said cellular signatures may cause a cellphone tracking system to cave just as it would had you transmitted millions of malformed cellular signatures. Im just merely implying that once this system which is accessible through the malls ethernet and wireless network folds like a chair, it would allow various interesting exploits to be performed and data to be collected. and we all love to test the anonymity of data declared anonymous by a third party who collects it using their proprietary closed source appliance.

Opt Around and Around (1)

arc86 (1815912) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153802)

Shoppers could opt out by discreetly stowing their cell phones in the little Santa's North Pole Train as it chugs around the food court all day...

Nothing new here. (1)

LowG1974 (1021485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38153894)

If you live in an area where the local news reports on "commuting times" from multiple points, you're already experiencing the same thing on your daily drive. Opt out by staying home and turning off your cell phone, tablet, PC, and TV. It's not like any of this is really new, it's just that someone was smart (or dumb) enough to admit to tracking it for a demographic purpose.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38153914)

Credit card companies have been tracking your shopping patterns for years.

opt-out practices (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38154130)

I'm not into more government intrusion into our lives, but the entire opt-out concept should be illegal. It should *all* be opt-in.

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