Tech|November 28, 2011| Author: Steven Hodson|Tags: , , ,

Mall owners realize a very bad idea when they see one and pull tracking plans

The other day there was some interesting news about how a couple of malls in the United States planned on tracking shoppers, anonymously of course, as they went about their Christmas shopping. They handed out the typical line that this was only going to the collection of anonymous aggregated data and that no personal information would be collected.

Needless to say the reaction was less than favorable and started very quickly after the first reports of this idea surfaced on the web. It now appears that the company, Forest City, has had some second thoughts about the idea and they have decided to shelve the whole idea.

Forest City had planned to conduct the trial until the end of December. However, just a day after the trial began, Sen. Schumer contacted Forest City to raise his concerns. In a press conference on Sunday, Schumer said that the malls should have allowed customers to opt into the survey, rather than having to “opt out” by turning off their cell phones. “A shopper’s personal cell phone should not be used by a third party as a tracking device by retailers,” Schumer said in a press conference on Sunday. “Personal cell phones are just that—personal. If retailers want to tap into your phone to see what your shopping patterns are, they can ask you for your permission to do so.”

Schumer also sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz asking the FTC to look into whether Path’s technology was legal in the US.

via Ars Technica

Don’t think that this is any big privacy win however because the company says that they have totally given up on the idea but rather they would bring it back once they had figured out a better way for shoppers to opt-out of the tracking.