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Shopping Center Tracking System Condemned by Civil Rights Campaigners

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the on-the-do-not-track-list dept.

Privacy 154

hypnosec writes "Civil rights campaigners have spoken out against a technology used by several shopping centers in the UK to track consumers using their mobile signals. The shopping centers claim that the technology helps them provide better services to consumers and retailers without compromising privacy. The system, called the Footpath, allows them to know how people are spending time in a shopping center, which spots they visit the most and even the route they take while walking around. Several consumer and civil rights groups, including Big Brother Watch, say consumers must be given a choice on whether they want their movement tracked or not." We covered a similar tracking system here in the U.S. last month.

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154 comments

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Privacy (2)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607514)

There's obvious privacy concerns around this software but if there's no identifying information stored then surely that would eliminate the concerns?

Re:Privacy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607528)

There will be identifying information stored. Never believe otherwise.

Re:Privacy (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608032)

When the information is so easily datamined and you have no idea who has an IMSI catcher or signal triangulation or whatnot, how can you even have this illusion of privacy? You will be tracked. The shop owners will never tell you.

Re:Privacy (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608264)

I imagine all the thousands of shop owners operating in shopping centres across the uk will attend their annual "don't tell anyone we're tracking them" secret underground rally, where possible leaks will be identified and silenced...permanently.

Re:Privacy (4, Insightful)

spacefight (577141) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608216)

Exactly my words. If they can pinpoint and track you through the stores over their microcells, bluetooth or maybe even WLAN (if available), then they for sure will be able to pinpoint you down once you stop at the cashier at store X and link your anonymous avatar/id to your credit card and bamm, no longer anonymous. Then they'll see what you purchased. Then they sort out what you'll buy next or likely buy next and and and.... There is big money in this. Don't use your credit card and/or switch of the cell phone if you don't wanna be tracked. Better work against it.

Re:Privacy (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608702)

Way ahead of you. I go in and buy doggy treats and condoms. Datamine THIS!

Re:Privacy (5, Informative)

Nibbler(C) (574581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607698)

Well, some of technologies are based on BlueTooth, which gives the MAC-48 address. It is unique, and with proper datamining could be identified if you visit enough stores and use credit card. I think the granularity for locating is around 15 feet radius.

Re:Privacy (1)

beachcoder (2281630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607944)

An accurate proximity check requires pairing - using the lower range transmitters could only determine whether you're in a 10 meter radius.

Re:Privacy (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608174)

With multiple transmitters that's enough. You just need to intersect the area covered by the transmitter that are detecting the device and subtract the area of the ones which aren't.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607994)

Bluetooth is dumb. How many people have discoverable devices?

No, this is typically using a USRP or another software defined radio, then doing tricks to decipher the cell phone protocol.
All you need with this is a typical GSM phone. (Not sure if this works with CDMA phones yet.) In the US, this would be using AT&T or Tmobile. (Unless you have turned off GSM in favor of the more secure WCDMA.)

Re:Privacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608458)

You can track me all you want. I have nothing to hide.

Signed, Anonymous Coward.

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608620)

-1 Naive

Re:Privacy (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608672)

Depending on the exact wording of the telecom laws in the UK this may be illegal, they are listing in on phone conversations even if it is just to get the phone id number.

Incentives (5, Insightful)

BlackusDiamondus (945259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607522)

There's an easy way that they could cajole most people into being tracked, and that's to give them "points" which they can spend on good & services depending on the time spent in the shopping centre, etc. That way, both parties get what they want and Big Brother is happy again as Joe Consumer continues on in blissful ignorance.

Re:Incentives (0)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607596)

IDK whats wrong if a database has a track of my monthly grocery purchases

Re:Incentives (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607662)

Because, among other things, there is an algorithm that can determine how best to give you "deals" that maximize their profits

Re:Incentives (3)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608072)

He asked what was wrong with it, not for an example of a morally neutral use for the information.

Re:Incentives (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608266)

Who is "they" as implied by your "their" ? Please precise.

Re:Incentives (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608408)

precise is not a verb.

And to help out, it should be obvious who "they" refer to.

Re:Incentives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608466)

so obvious that you too avoid defining it. yes.

Re:Incentives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607750)

It'll get sold to an insurance company eventually. They'll check how much junk you eat, then they'll screw you on your health cover.

Next think you're living under a bridge and your leg has fallen off from gangrene.

Re:Incentives (2)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607796)

It'll get sold to an insurance company eventually. They'll check how much junk you eat, then they'll screw you on your health cover.

Not as much of a problem in the UK, but there are other issues.

Re:Incentives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608544)

Not as much of a problem in the UK, but there are other issues.

Not yet, give Cameron a chance.

Re:Incentives (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608208)

>IDK whats wrong
That's because you're thick as pig shit. "IDK"? "whats"?

Re:Incentives (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608242)

Did you hear the story where people visiting web shops on iPads paid higher prices for the same products? Why would a merchant do that? Because he has segmented the customer base into price-conscious people and people who have iPads.

The more information a merchant has about you, the closer he can get to the maximum price you're willing to pay. This is the reason why these systems are installed. If you're OK with paying more than you have to, these tracking systems should not worry you. In that case I suggest you never take up playing Poker.

There are other privacy issues when you can't control who else gets the information, but the intended consequences alone should be enough for customers to shun stores who track them.

Re:Incentives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608720)

Did you hear the story where people visiting web shops on iPads paid higher prices for the same products? Why would a merchant do that? Because he has segmented the customer base into price-conscious people and people who have iPads.

Couldn't it also be that iPad owners tend to have more money, so they can afford more expensive things?
(I remember seeing an article reporting on what you mentioned and looked but couldn't find one.)

Re:Incentives (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608800)

It's not a matter of affording more expensive things. It's about paying more for the same things.

You're in a shop, about to buy a bag of chips. If the asking price were 15% higher, you'd still buy, but the store doesn't know what your limit is, so you get the chips below your limit. The more the merchant knows about your spending behavior, the closer the asking price will be to your limit. You'll pay more.

Re:Incentives (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608624)

Nothing at all, if you sign up for the "loyalty" cards and are happy, good luck to you.

Privacy aside for a second the one thing that always gets me annoyed by all this profiling is that I want some random activity in my life. I discovered I liked carrots by simply buying shredded carrots one day on a whim when I was 19, I hadn't eaten them since I was sick aged 4! I still don't like them that much but I know now that I can eat them when offered without breaking out in a cold sweat. I discovered metal music simply by buying Iron Maiden's Live After Death album for a laugh way back in 1985 after existing on a diet of chart music for 3 years, just like all my friends at the time. I made some silly minor rash actions which lead me onto other things.

If profiling had been in operation and I had been following trends geared towards my current tastes, as I most likely would have been doing when in my teens, I would most likely have never have been advised to simply try carrots again or pick up a vinyl album that day. I don't want some analytical system advising me on what the developers think I might like and won't like based on what I have done previously. These mega-corps don't want you to think and be rash, they want you where they can see you, doing what they think you should be doing, their way. Don't! Go out and go nuts, throw these stupid profiling systems into chaos and discover that your complex and interesting life cannot be simply modelled by a bit of software.

Re:Incentives (3, Interesting)

iter8 (742854) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608640)

IDK whats wrong if a database has a track of my monthly grocery purchases

It's MY information about ME. I don't collect information about how many cans of soup the market sells and I couldn't without the store's permission. Why should I want them to collect information about me to be sold to a 3rd party without asking me and paying me? If that information is valuable to a store, it's valuable to me. I want to know what clear benefit there is to me and I want to decide which transactions I engage in. I realize that is probably a vain hope since we long ago stopped being customers and became products.

Re:Incentives (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608786)

Maybe, maybe not; one man's junk is another man's treasure.

Re:Incentives (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608740)

Nothing by itself, but the implications are numerous. The worst of which is "profiling". Which has developed into something that's a lot like phrenology. He bought x, y and z, and someone else who did that went bonkers and threw a bomb in the local school, so let's watch that guy.

Re:Incentives (3, Insightful)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607680)

Even simpler, just make them behave like price-reducing, habit-tracking "club cards", except you don't even need to take them out or fill any name-and-address forms to get'em. "1 raisin cereal, $5.00, just $3.99 with your smartphone! No club cards to fumble with--just bring your phone in your pocket and you provide valuable marketing inf^W^W^W^Wsave!"

Australia too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607534)

turn your phone off

Re:Australia too (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607768)

That's not going to do it. Leave your phone home. And wear a mask.

Re:Australia too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608008)

And change your mask regularly.

Re:Australia too (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608260)

And wear a mask.

Illegal in several EU countries , in public space at least, whether it be a burqa or otherwise face-covering.

this is probably in violation of EU privacy laws (5, Informative)

ga53n (122179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607538)

I think this will be in violation of

Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data

especially Article 7

but apparently nobody cares about what is legal anyway

further reading to be found here:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&numdoc=31995L0046 [europa.eu]

Re:this is probably in violation of EU privacy law (3, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607770)

That's cute. You think they care about laws. How quaint.

Re:this is probably in violation of EU privacy law (2)

whargoul (932206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608684)

He must be not American

Re:this is probably in violation of EU privacy law (2)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608824)

That's cute. You think they care about laws. How quaint.

No he doesn't. You seem to have missed the bit where he said 'but apparently nobody cares about what is legal anyway'.

Re:this is probably in violation of EU privacy law (1)

shilly (142940) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608182)

Well, nobody except the company in question, which has said it has checked out the legality of what it is doing very thoroughly with the Information Commissioner. Apart from that minor point, you're absolutely spot on.

Re:this is probably in violation of EU privacy law (1)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608578)

If the tracking data does not allow for identification of the individual then it is not personal data and the Directive does not apply.

(a) 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity;

The UK Information Commissioner provides a step-by-step quick reference [ico.gov.uk] [PDF] appears to confirm anonymous phone signals are not "personal data".

Re:this is probably in violation of EU privacy law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608582)

Laws, promulgated by lawyers, meant to be broken, challenged, and perpetuate the legal industry through conflict, suit, and hefty legal fees for both sides.

If we're looking for conspiracy theories, let's look at how the laws are crafted to be broken and then arise in a submarine patent fashion to bite both sides of the argument and feed the legal machine.

Conflicted Issue (3, Interesting)

Xanny (2500844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607544)

When you enter any private establishment, you forfeit any right to having your location at any time unknown or unrecorded. It becomes the individuals responsibility to inquire what information about them is being recorded and to chose to continue staying wherever they are or to leave, but when you enter you enter a contract with the owner of the establishment about your presence there.

In store cameras have never been complained about. It might be a breach of privacy to take advantage of radio signals from cell phones, since you never gave the store permission to use the signals your own device generates, but that is a matter of popular opinion - does the store have a right to record or use signals produced by their customers for their own purposes?

In general that is a no, so in that regard I side with the consumer. In the end, it is an argument of privacy in private - inside stores and other establishments you are not in public, so public law need not apply to you. The question is what can the owner of a private place you inhabit at any time do to you or involving you. I say monitoring location is not a problem - recording the radio waves generated by cell phones is kind of a problem.

There is another issue (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607586)

In Holland at least every single citizen is free tor receive any radio signal. If you transmit a signal, I am free to pick it up. There are no limits to this, it is perfectly legal for a citizen to pick up military or police traffic if they want. Decrypting it is another matter of course.

So, since these shoppers are transmitting radio signals they have given explicit permission for anyone else to receive those signals and do whatever they want with it. There is no privacy because the moment you started broadcasting you gave everyone permission to use that signal. Not my fault that signal is coming out of your pants.

To suddenly make it illegal to track a radio signal just because it is a phone and not a "proper" radio signal would require massive changes in the law. What next, I can't aim my attena at the TV broadcasting tower because that is invading its privacy?

So your claim that recording the radio signals is wrong is absolute and totally falls. This should be obvious to anybody with a brain, how can it possible be illegal to capture something passing through my person and property? By my very existence I am capturing radio waves all the time with my body and all my property. What next? You want to ban ordinary radio's from receiving certain bands on the FM spectrum? Make it illegal for my garage opener to respond to your clicker? How about the light from your car charging the solar cells in my garden?

If you don't want other people receiving and processing your radio signals, then you shouldn't be broadcasting them.

Want privacy? Turn your personal tracker off. There is an app for that.

Re:There is another issue (4, Interesting)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607718)

Capturing and recording radio signals is fine, analysing them and extracting identifying information is another matter ...

that requires decryption, and could be considered hacking
and requires personal info to be stored which involves data protection

If they gain access to any personal information using this then they are almost certainly breaking data protection laws, this is why they keep stressing the "aggregated" but to track you need to identify individuals ....

Re:There is another issue (2)

blindseer (891256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607732)

I'll generally agree with this argument. This makes sense to me. If I'm being bombarded with RF then I should have the right to examine what I'm being bombarded with.

I will suggest that someone could argue that there is a difference in examining the content of the radio signal, as in listening in to the conversation, and in using the radio signal to track the source of that signal. One could argue that there is a difference in listening in on the radio conversations of police cars and using the radios in those cars to track their movements.

Wasn't there an article on Slashdot before about a technique that used radio emitters like Wi-Fi stations, CFL bulbs, refrigerator motors, and so on to make a passive device that could see through walls? If I am allowed to examine the content of the radio signals to that level then I can watch what my neighbors are doing in considerable detail. I also recall reading somewhere that use of such devices (whether they use IR or RF) by police was prohibited without a warrant. Private parties are not held to the same standards as police so a use like this might be lawful. I'd think that some sort of notification by the observer might be needed to keep this level of observation legal, sort of like the notice that cameras might be used in dressing rooms in clothing stores.

No. (4, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607740)

I suspect you will find that is a "radio broadcast signal". It may be legal to receive signals from the police, but I strongly suspect that if you were found to be recording those signals and then using them to predict police movements, you would be in breach of the law. I think you are deliberately confusing simple reception, which is unavoidable in many cases and therefore cannot be illegal, and the use that is made of intercepts.

If this tracking system stores no user information whatsoever, that would be one thing. But if it tracks phones by following MAC addresses or other information, and if there is CCTV, it can easily be argued that this could be used to store personal data by the simple route phone tracking -> cctv records -> facebook recognition (for instance). As the user does not know that s/he is being tracked, or even that this is possible, has not agreed to it, and does not know where to go to find the information, this appears to be in breach of Europen data protection legislation.

I note that you suddenly switch from intercepting signals to recording signals and then say "is wrong is absolute and totally fails". This is some Netherlands legal formulation with which I am not familiar. You also write "This should be obvious to anybody with a brain". I am afraid that these are not legal arguments; they are content free attempted sledgehammers to close down discussion. The fact that you feel the need to do this shows, frankly, that you know you are writing rubbish. If you believed your own argument, you would not feel the need to justify it by pre-emptively announcing that anyone who disagrees with you is stupid. You must be huge fun at management meetings.

Re:There is another issue (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607748)

So, since these shoppers are transmitting radio signals they have given explicit permission

I think you mean implicit.

Re:There is another issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607824)

[...] signals and do whatever they want with it

Decrypting it is another matter of course

which is it?

Re:There is another issue (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607958)

I was with you all the way up to that MMO Quest bit.

Re:Conflicted Issue (1)

expo53d (2511934) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607598)

It might be a breach of privacy to take advantage of radio signals from cell phones, since you never gave the store permission to use the signals your own device generates, but that is a matter of popular opinion - does the store have a right to record or use signals produced by their customers for their own purposes?

It *might* be? I think not... Imagine you are at Starbucks drinking coffee, and surfing with your laptop. Does that give the Barista the right to use sslstrip and extract your credit card numbers? Not at all.

Re:Conflicted Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607604)

One could argue, if the individual does not want the signal to be recorded, don't send that signal.

I tend to agree with the idea of, if its done in public let the public know. If its done in private let no one know. There is nothing stopping an individual following you around in public taking note of your locations. Whats wrong with them recording a signal that your broadcasting?

Re:Conflicted Issue (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607684)

There is nothing stopping an individual following you around in public taking note of your locations.

That's not what the judge told me.

Re:Conflicted Issue (2)

DZign (200479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607610)

Also my opinion.. probably a discussion will end being around technicalities (legal catching radiowaves or not)..

Marketing/branding research already investigated shop layouts and paths shoppers make since many years. This is nothing new.
The only difference is that in the past it was small scale. It started somewhere in the 1960ies/70ies, you had actual people in a shop and observing how shoppers walked around (seems most enter a shop, turn to the right and go around in a big circle).
Later security cameras were used to do this, just record everything and have someone watch the tapes later and draw out the path.
Probably now some automatic computer tracking is added to it, so you don't need a person watching all the tapes and tracking individual paths..

Only big difference now with cellphones is that it's done on a much larger scale, they can track everyone around the shopping centre and even know when people come back..

Re:Conflicted Issue (2)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608456)

When Shop A swaps its tracking info with Shop B, we have an even bigger problem. Comet, Dixons and PC World are all owned by the same company and I'll guess they all share their data.

Stalking is illegal in the UK. How is following me around from shop to shop not stalking?

I couldn't give a shit if they say it's anonymous, as we all know it's not.

I'm so glad most of my shopping is done online. The only shops I visit are local corner shops, many of which know my real name and where I live... maybe I haven't thought that through properly. Don;t spend money in shops is the only solution.

Re:Conflicted Issue (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608518)

Stalking is not illegal in the UK but harassment is. The 1996 Stalking Bill failed but the 1996 Protection from harassment Act did not.

I cannot see how a person could consider themselves harassed by the *possibility* that their anonymous movements inside a shopping precinct are being tracked for non-nefarious purposes.

If such tracking becomes commonplace, it should be advertised clearly so that you have a choice whether to avoid the establishment, switch off your cellular device or allow such tracking.

Re:Conflicted Issue (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607780)

All the more reason to order your shit from Amazon and have it delivered by a guy that's not tracking your phone, nor taking your picture for visual recognition. If they want to play this game, screw 'em.

Re:Conflicted Issue (2)

lucidlyTwisted (2371896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607910)

Yes, because Amazon do not track you. Oh no. They don't have a vast database on what you buy when. No. Not Amazon!
If one's tin-foil hat is twitching: visit local stores (not national chains), only use cash.

Re:Conflicted Issue (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608290)

Well just access amazon from behind 7 proxies allways pay with visa gift cards creating a new account each time. Naturally have the goods delivered to a post office in a town or two over, rotate thru a number of then in 100mi radius or larger if you can manage. That way the only information amazon should have to is a big geographic area where a common name sir name pair shows up. Now if you had some quality fake ids you could use to claim the packages at the post you might be able to use different names as well .

Re:Conflicted Issue (2)

hughbar (579555) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608564)

Related to this issue, often shopping centres and in London, Canary Wharf are not 'public realm'. So although, in many cases you appear to be in public space, you are not, you are in the jaws of some corporation or other [Westfield, Canary Wharf etc. etc.] Anna Minton's book, Ground Control: http://www.annaminton.com/Ground_Control.htm [annaminton.com] has a good exposition and explanation of this. Parts of our so-called 'Olympic Village' [which nearly all East Enders didn't want] are apparently private.

So, surveillance at will, no street musicians and no pesky protests about stuff. Welcome to the new world of the new enclosures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclosure_Acts [wikipedia.org] buy something and be grateful to be tracked 'for your safety and convenience'. Thank you for your cooperation.

Opt Out (3, Interesting)

expo53d (2511934) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607570)

You can 'opt out' of this tracking service by turning off your mobile phone. But in this time and day, this solution seems akin to telling people to stop using email to 'opt out' from spam or to stop eating foods to 'opt out' of food poisoning. But even if the management wanted the costumers to be able to opt out, how would they do it? The only way is to tell the system to stop tracking the phones opted out, which means the system will need to start tracking the phones individually (to identify which phones are to be tracked and which are opted out), and by doing that, they enable the system to track *individual* users who have not opted out, making the issue worse for the average consumer who has no idea that these systems exist/how they work.

Re:Opt Out (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607792)

You can opt out of this tracking service by ordering your stuff from Amazon.com and having it delivered. Problem solved.

Re:Opt Out (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608156)

It's funny because it's true. If you do it, only Amazon will know what you shop and where you live and what your CCN is. Win-win!

Speak for yourself (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608344)

"turning off your mobile phone. But in this time and day, this solution seems akin to telling people to stop using email to 'opt out' from spam or to stop eating foods to 'opt out' of food poisoning."

Is it? I have an old style dumbphone which I hardly ever have switched on. Its mainly just for me to make outgoing calls. If someone needs to contact me they can try my landline at home or work or else send a text or leave a voicemail and I'll pick it up later. I didn't need to be contactable 24/7 20 years ago and I don't need to be now. Only a fool lets technology rule their life rather than just being a tool.

Re:Speak for yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608598)

From my understanding, they still can get information from cell phones even if they are turned off. [go.com]

Now in this instance, its wiretapping and the FBI so I'm not sure exactly what it entails if it requires modification to cell phone but according to the article, the only way to defeat the bug is to remove the cell phone battery. Though I'm not sure if this is an unmodified phone or not. If its unmodified, then simply turning off your phone doesn't resolve the issue you talk about.

Hair bow wholesale (-1, Offtopic)

janecrafts (2546952) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607626)

Only dinosaurs go to the mall (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607650)

Going to the mall is so 1980's. This technology is not only irrelevant, it's out of style.

Re:Only dinosaurs go to the mall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607986)

We somehow never had malls here in Germany, until very recently, and they are still rather the exception. I had never seen one from the inside until I went to France the first time.

Somehow when you can walk down to the next corner (or use the bike), laziness stops you from ever driving far out. There are companies that go far out, like furniture shops and electronics stores. But the latter already caved to online shops, and for the former you need a car/truck anyway. But for food?

We just have shopping streets in pedestrian areas in the city cores here. Every city has them. So you could say out city centers are one *huge* mall. :)

Anyway, what do you guys have in those old city centers?

Re:Only dinosaurs go to the mall (2)

chiark (36404) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608224)

>Anyway, what do you guys have in those old city centers?

In the US, the concept of a city centre as known in the UK, Germany, etc, is utterly alien in the majority of cities. If you want to buy something, you go to a mall... I guess Boston is a bit of an exception, and there will be others too, but shopping = mall.

In the UK, city centres are still surviving - just - but there has been quite a change that I've observed: smaller stores are popping up, which is a Good Thing, and occasionally larger empty stores are being taken on by a load of small, independent traders acting as a co-operative.

It used to be every other shop was a shoe shop (see Douglas Adams!), and more recently a phone shop. Thankfully, that trend is reversing and there's more diversification.

Councils are realising that they must be careful not to kill the centre complete, so are slowly reacting to adjust business rates to be affordable for smaller businesses, and are also realising that city centre parking is an important part of the equation: as an example, Leeds has reduced its parking rates from £2-3/h during the week to £1/h at weekends.

City centres are competing with bright, well lit, under cover spaces that provide free parking but are merely carbon copies of any mall you could find anywhere in the UK, or even in Europe... The city centres are becoming more about independent retailers, and less of an indentikit city: we're not there yet, but my observations are that things are moving slowly that way. And more power to them!

Re:Only dinosaurs go to the mall (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608244)

Germany is exemplary for having ancient and friendly city centers, where the living is good and the going is friendly. As such, it is an exception. "City Center" in the US, where most slashtards are resident, means either "skyscrapers crammed with offices" or "poverty & derelict real estate" ( e.g. Detroit ).

Internet shopping is for basement dwellers (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608418)

And its no different to mail order which my housebound granny used to use all the time. Some of us LIKE going out and actually buying stuff on the spot, not having to wait 2 days for it to be chucked over the wall by some minimum wage fed-ex grunt.

Poor shopping centers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607670)

Why do they track those poor shopping centers anyway.
It's not like they move a lot, is it?

Or did the headline mean that the campaigners condemn a shopping center for tracking a system?

Damn, English, clear out your ambiguities!

Kill those who care (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607678)

Why not just label the people that care about privacy as terrorists... then the people that care about terrorists can be killed quickly and quietly, leaving the other people that are happy, loving the safety and security of their governing body. Isn't that the new form of freedom?

We have been through this before (1)

dredwerker (757816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607690)

If memory serves the whole argument comes down to whether the IMSI or any unique number to that phone is an interception of cellphone traffic. Currently only law enforcement can get at these and hackers/mobile providers obviously. Lets all just get these with cameras,car number plate+facial recognition and publish the combined results. Or we could record all FLO (forces of law and order) or owners of shops movements to get our own back.

No list (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607756)

I was about to ask if anyone had a list of places that did this (so I know if I were to go to one whether I needed to turn my phone off or not bring it), but found this in the Guardian article:

However the company refused to say how many shopping centres in the UK used the technology or identify any of those that had installed it. The company only said that it was used in seven countries.

I may see if I can find out about my local one, or just go with a default of not having my phone (either on or with me at all)

Re:No list (2)

andy.ruddock (821066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608534)

From the Guardian article there's a link to the Princesshay shopping centre which does use this system. Their website has a link to LandSecurities which is apparently the largest commercial property company in the uk. They have a link to a map which shows their retail property locations (http://www.landsecurities.com/retail-portfolio/our-retail-properties-by-location). This is probably a good starting point to determine the shopping centres using this system in the UK.

Oblig... (1, Funny)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607772)

In Soviet Britain, Centres Shop You!

Couldn't resist ;-)

Let me turn this around for a moment... (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607844)

I'm forced to use UK shopping centres, including participants in this system, more often than I would like (which given how often I would like is "never", probably isn't saying much). And you know what...

Track me. Monitor me. Scrutinise me. Spy on me. Do whatever you want. Provided that what you do with the results tells you that what I actually want from the hell-hole you manage requires more than an identikit, crapulent collection of over-priced clothing and jewellery stores and a single branch of Game.

I've noted the number of shops in these places that have closed down over the last two years and I'm not surprised. This isn't really a good time to be trying to sell people a £200 pair of jeans. In fact, I'm not sure there ever is a good time to try to sell people a £200 pair of jeans. And yet that's what every shop in these places seems to be trying to do.

Whew... that turned into more of a rant than I intended.

Re:Let me turn this around for a moment... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607912)

Shops of all kinds are closing down in my country. Any town I go to, the larger it is, the more empty retail space I see, but EVERY town has more than I've ever seen there before.

Perhaps the bite is coming to your cracker now.

Re:Let me turn this around for a moment... (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608106)

Oh, believe me, the last thing I want to do is look like I'm celebrating shops going out of business and people losing their jobs.

What I was remarking upon, I think, was how vulnerable so much of the retail sector - as represented in large British shopping centres, had left itself to the recession through the horrible lack of diversity on offer. I'd estimate that in Manchester's Trafford Centre (which I think is the biggest shopping centre in the UK outside of London), more than two thirds of the shops were selling over-priced clothing and accessories. Just as the recession hit, a big, glossy new multi-floor mall opened in the middle of Cambridge (further defacing what was one one of the UK's prettiest town centres), in which every single shop fell into that category, without exception.

I doubt that retail practices like that could have survived for long even had the boom continued.

Re:Let me turn this around for a moment... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608238)

Mod parent up for the expression "...the hell-hole you manage..."

More information (1)

mretallack (588641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607850)

A detailed description of the system can be found here: path-intelligence [hostingprod.com] . Some of the more interesting bits:
  • Uses TMSI, Bluetooth and Wifi for tracking
  • Uses the GNU Radio Universal Software Radio Peripheral

GNURadio system initially from one man band setup (2)

jago25_98 (566531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607902)

If this is the same system as I remember reading about before it was setup by a Brit entrepreneur with GNURadio:
  http://www.ruby-forum.com/topic/153689 [ruby-forum.com]

It sounds like a very inspiring story for geeks & radio enthusiast entrepreneurs.

His software is of course, closed source so I can't say much more than that.I can't find the website now. I think he focusses on shopping malls but it can work anywhere and if you got the cash he'd probably do that for you.

The bit I don't understand is how he communicates the movement to the customer. In my mind I imagined a full map but it could be more simple; just indicating which shop is closest.

I think the company is called Path Intelligence?
http://groups.google.com/group/london-hack-space/browse_thread/thread/564ac80ec04b8b3f [google.com]
http://www.pathintelligence.com/en/products/footpath/footpath-technology [pathintelligence.com]

The patent:
http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=EP&NR=1779133&KC=&FT=E&locale=en_EP [espacenet.com]

  -j

Re:GNURadio system initially from one man band set (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608618)

An inspiring story, that a geek got rich by making the world a worse place for all of us.

Just take old cell phones to the pet dept... (3, Funny)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38607930)

Tape 'em to hamsters (be nice and use medical tape), and let the hamsters go.

Re:Just take old cell phones to the pet dept... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608038)

Might be something you can do at Wal*Mart soon...they appear to see a future of some sort in mobile platforms [blogspot.com] .

I’m excited to announce that Small Society, a highly respected mobile agency, is joining the @WalmartLabs mobile team. Small Society embodies what has made us successful in 2011 and will help us accelerate that success in 2012.

Like how I snuck this in wayyyyy down here?

Re:Just take old cell phones to the pet dept... (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608472)

I've got a piece of medical tape attached to my arm right now (3rd time this week getting bloodwork done) - trust me, it *will* hurt when you are furry/hairy.

pick your fights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38607938)

if you choose to own and use a cell phone, then the least of your worries is this specific mundane type of mobile surveillance. mobile devices and carriers are capable of and guilty of so much more egregious and sophisticated violations to privacy that should really be in the mainstream focus. insidious things like carrieriq and trueposition not to mention the direct unchallenged interface between carriers and LEOs/government are what truly erodes electronic civil rights. but whatever just as long as i have my spotify and angry birds i guess...

Allowing opt-outs would require personal data (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608026)

I heard an interesting interview recently with someone involved with this project (or something very similar). He said that the system does not identify individuals, just sees handsets, which are tracked as the owners move around the area under study. The mapping of handset to individual (e.g. phone number) relies on data which they do not have access to, nor do they want. They are more interested in the movement of individual, unidentified people. As a result, the data which they have does not contain any personally-identifiable information, he said, and they are not licensed for the handling of personal data.

He went on to sat that if there were to be a requirement for an opt-out soloution, personally-identifiable information would realistically be required at some point in the process of mapping handset data to opted-out individuals, which would require them to receive and hold personally-identifiable information, which they did not want to do.

Re:Allowing opt-outs would require personal data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608388)

... nor do they want. They are more interested in the movement of individual, unidentified people. ...

Not buying it. If they could get demographic data on each user they would want it. Teen vs adult shopping patterns, male vs female shopping patterns, etc. If they could get that info without upsetting people be sure they would.

How hard is it... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608232)

...to get pointed out that I am a citizen and a human being, not a "consumer" ? I wish NOT to be reduced to what, where and when I buy.

Re:How hard is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608370)

No no no. You're a citizen and a human being AND a consumer.

See? You're not reduced; you're enhanced. All better.

Why is the most obvious fix... (2)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608256)

...which is simply not using a mobile phone to enable "tracking" systems like this, never considered?

There are obvious weaknesses to tracking systems such as this. Yes, the majority of you may be sitting there laughing uncontrollably at the notion of you actually giving up your cell phone, but you're not laughing any harder or louder than the older generation at the notion that no one thinks they can "survive" without one.

Forget the Internet, how the hell we survived prior to the last 20 years without cell phones continues to perplex even the most advanced minds.

Re:Why is the most obvious fix... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608332)

so it's like going to the mall 15 years ago

oh noes

a solution exists (0)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608272)

TURN OFF YOUR DAMN PHONES! seriously, it wasnt so long ago that people could only answer the phone from within their homes.

frankly, i find it rude when people are chatting in a store or walking blindly into people because they are smsing.

Re:a solution exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608402)

GET OFF THE INTERNET! Seriously, it wasn't so long ago that people could only communicate with people on the other side of the world by posting a letter.

WT act (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608280)

I wonder if this can be prosecuted under the wireless telegraphy act?

In Britain you're not free to receive any radio signals you want, you need authorization to do so. (That's how they get radar detectors - the radar detectors are not illegal, but receiving the radar signal without a license is). Some parts of the WT act are course a stupid and illiberal law, but it could be used for good in this instance.

"consumers must be given a choice on whether they (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38608316)

"consumers must be given a choice on whether they want their movement tracked or not."

They have a choice: to turn off their phones before entering the mall.

No reasonable expectation of privacy (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38608492)

The store may be private property but essentially you are in a public place. You are easily observable and can be followed by anyone who can obtain the same information. If the supermarket openly stated that they were doing this I don't have a problem with that. Some people may so they should turn the cell phone off. No big deal here. Of course there is a chance that the information is misused but I think we'll have t wait and see what happens.
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