Retail Stores are Tracking Your Cell Phones?!


AT THIS POINT, MOST OF US ASSUME WE’RE BEING
TRACKED BY SOMEONE WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE, BUT INCREASINGLY, PERSONAL TRACKING IS FINDING
ITS WAY INTO BRICK AND MORTAR STORES. AT 17 STORES NATIONWIDE, NORDSTROM INSTALLED
PHYSICAL SENSORS THAT COLLECTED INFORMATION FROM CUSTOMERS’ PHONES AS THEY TRIED TO CONNECT
TO WIFI. THE SENSORS CAN LATCH ON TO A PHONE’S MEDIA ACCESS CONTROL ADDRESS, WHICH IS THEN
USED TO MONITOR THE MOVEMENTS OF THE OWNER, THEY CAN THEN TRACK WHAT DEPARTMENTS YOU VISIT
AND HOW MUCH TIME YOU SPEND IN EACH. NORDSTROM DEFENDED THE PRACTICE BY POINTING
OUT THAT THEY DON’T GATHER ANY PERSONAL IDENTIFYING INFORMATION OR SENSITIVE DATA; RATHER, THE
SOFTWARE PROVIDES “ANONYMOUS AGGREGATE REPORTS THAT GIVE US A BETTER SENSE OF CUSTOMER FOOT
TRAFFIC”. STILL, PUBLIC RESPONSE TO THE TRACKING WAS
SUSPICIOUS ENOUGH THAT NORDSTROM POSTED A SIGN AT AT LEAST ONE LOCATION ADVISING CUSTOMERS
THAT IF THEY DONT WANT TO PARTICIPATE, TURN OFF THEIR PHONES OR DISABLE WIFI. FINALLY, AFTER A CONSUMER OUTCRY, NORDSTROM
SAYS THEY ENDED THE PRACTICE IN MAY, BUT THERE ARE REPORTS OF MANY OTHER BRICK AND MORTAR
STORES USING SIMILAR TRACKING SOFTWARE, INCLUDING HOME DEPOT. THE COMPANY THAT PROVIDED MUCH OF THE TRACKING
SOFTWARE IS CALLED EUCLID, AND WHAT IS DOES IT AGGREGATE THE DATA COLLECTED THROUGH WIFI
SIGNALS INTO A DASHBOARD THAT GIVES THE COMPANY INSIGHT ON SHOPPING HABITS. BUT THEY’RE HARDLY THE ONLY ONES PURSUING
THIS METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION. A SIMILAR FIRM CALLED Y-FIND GIVES US A WALKTHROUGH
OF HOW ACCURATE LOCATION TRACKING CAN BE… BUT DOES GATHERING DATA FROM YOUR PHONES CROSS
A LINE? YOUR REACTIONS RANGE FROM UNSURPRISED – THIS IS THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP – TO “YES,
ITS CREEPY” SO, SOLUTION IF YOU’RE NOT COOL WITH BEING
TRACKED IN DEPARTMENT STORES? WELL YOU COULD – LIKE JORDAN ON MY FB PAGE – NEVER STEP INTO
ONE OF THOSE STORES AGAIN. OR YOU CAN ALSO OPT OUT AT EUCLID ANALYTICS
DOT COM. FOR MORE ON HOW “BIG DATA” IS FINDING ITS
WAY INTO ADVERTISING, CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO FROM LAST WEEK ON TWO-WAY ADS THAT WATCH YOU. FOR TFN THIS IS ANNIE. AND DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT TODAY’S TECH
ASSASSIN RELOADED WHERE RICHARD RYAN SHOOTS A ROKU IN SLOW-MO. CLICK THE LINK TO THE LEFT.

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60 thoughts on “Retail Stores are Tracking Your Cell Phones?!

  1. They are all doing it or working on getting it working. It's not new. I wouldn't be surprised if the video cameras started tracking movement of individuals via face recognition.

  2. no because positional tracking with wide area wifi has been shitty and inaccurate til recently, its been accurate for a year or so now.

  3. Guess what… you all are freaking out over not a whole lot. Guess what, pay attention! You had to CONNECT to their WiFi to even be tracked. Now when you connect to that WiFi access point you are agreeing to a Terms of Service. That Terms of Service is allowing them to track you using the resource THEY provided.

    Guess what? DON'T GET A FREAKING SMART PHONE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE TRACKED. Shit, its got cell triangulation and GPS… and people are worried about opt-in marketing. FFS.

  4. You are getting paid, in free WiFi. That was the only way they could track you. If you used their wifi, then you were paid. You agreed to their ToS.

  5. Who the FUCK even cares? If you're in the store people can already see where the hell you're standing. I don't care if someone is tracking me inside of the goddamn store. Some people are so fucking paranoid. If you want complete privacy, go live in a cave.

  6. You don't HAVE TO connect to their WIFI for them to track you. Because your phone/laptop continually sends out requests to connect to known access points, they simply need to triangulate the requests you send. This concept is why your device automatically connects to your home/school/work WIFI and is what Hak5's Wifi Pineapple ('hacker' tool) is based on.

  7. How is it unconstitutional? What is the difference between someone sitting on the balcony watching you and tracking you by your phone? Answer, it's just a different way to do it. There is no 4th Amendment violation (assuming that's the one you think is being violated).

  8. >.> Touche.. I know not everyone controls the functions of their cell like others. Didn't think about that because I've had that "feature" disabled for some time.

    Though I would argue with out connecting then they are not actually gathering anything more than the simplest of data, and not even about a "person". Same could be done with (likely is being done) in store CCTV systems, or hell even the RFID.

    Final point stands, don't want to be tracked? Toss your phone and PC in the trash. lol

  9. Exactly… Unfair doesn't equal unconstitutional.

    People are in arms with this, while posting on a Google product. That amuses me to no end. I hope they complain about PRISM on Facebook to just nail in the hilarity to me.

  10. A 'person' by name, no. A person by MAC address, yes. They don't know if you are an old man or a little girl, but they can still uniquely track you through the store and, if they want, build a database to know how frequently the MAC address is there. RFID is less likely because of its shorter ranges (in most products) and, more so, because hardly anyone has RFID chips on them (excluding badges which are short distance); they have NFC chips which require a distance of a few cm.

  11. You are getting somewhere with the MAC database. All they need to do is buy some data from Facebook and put identities to address after the fact. It's not like there are businesses already doing that… oh wait.. there is xD

    Didn't think about implications of aggregation of data down the line, but I also recognize it's par for the course of being online. Being educated, you can minimize the ways they track your information. But I also realize the "internet" was pioneered by DARPA…

  12. Yep on the data aggregation…welcome to the world of 'big data.' The 'funny' thing is that there is getting to be so much data that it makes it harder to accurately and appropriately use it. Just think, 90% of the world's data was created in the last 2 years and Google alone is processing DOZENS of PB every day. Try and sift through that…Though we are all scared, I believe the NSA/CIA will go farther and farther into the dark as encryption is more widely used.

  13. This is so creepy…. what's next? cameras monitoring people when they shop, to insure you don't steal something?.. we could call them something like security cameras

  14. I don't care for this but people know there are cameras everywhere in the store, right? I'd say that's worse than anonymously seeing where I walk by my phone.

  15. I never got how tracking spending habits is creepy or a violation. I mean it is not like I pine for getting Viagra ads in place of ads for my favorite authors and craft beer.

    Track my spending by all means I would rather you direct me to a new product that may interest me rather than FREE* iPads and sex pills in particular as I just do not care about many widely available products. I know about Coke (the beverage) we all do your ad has no effect on my purchase of it.

  16. Wait, if this tracks you via your phones MAC address couldnt you just have an app on a rooted phone to change the MAC address every couple of minutes???

  17. I used to work in the IT dept of a company whose Marketing dept would have LOVED to have this technology. The questions I've been asked as to what is possible would make a conspiracy theorist's head spin. Although some (most?) people view this as an invasion of privacy, people in advertising would see this as another opportunity to further reach customers. From how I see it, one of the mantra's in advertising is "failure to know any aspect of your client base, is an opportunity squandered."

  18. Don't see the problem tbh, a shops wifi rarely reaches past the front door = when the tracking ends. This kind of thing is important to make shops more efficient so they can compete with the Internet.

  19. one way or a another you're still being tracked and your basic privacy is being invaded, and needs to stop along with all this government spying on us the people.

  20. So they can track you on surveillance cameras and no one thinks anything about it but if they track where your phone is in the store that's bad. People are silly.

  21. Please, tell use how much privacy you have while in public? This is more private than being tracked by surveillance cameras. If you want that much privacy, you should really avoid going into public spaces.

  22. Why is this an issue? This is much less invasive and much less personal than security cameras. And carries more benefits. These systems couldn't access your phone. Nothing more than where you are. Who buys a device that is 100% always connected and networked and expects it to be super encrypted and secure? If you want privacy, get a burn phone. If you want to just live your life and check Instagram on your phone? Stop being paranoid.

  23. im ok with being tracked as long as they keep my data anonymous, as for prism i don't think anyone should have a problem with them intercepting emails or even data on phones or computers because why should you care about what they are seeing unless you personally are doing something that is considered illegal and could get you in trouble, but in that case it would be your fault entirely and just don't get involved in the activities. If you are innocent they have no need for you in my mind.

  24. You are right, but the root of the entire problem, is that when you give the government that kind of power, there's nothing stopping them from changing the laws, so that suddenly that thing you were doing that was perfectly legal before, is now illegal, and you go to jail.

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