- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
- Bob McDonnell’s defense: Lonely wife developed ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House Republicans unveil bill to speed deportations of border children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
Big Brother label hits retailers accused of tracking customer movements
Question of the Day
Retailers are facing fire, accused of Big Brother-type tactics that have led them to track the cell phone signals of customers to observe where they go and what they do inside store walls.
The technology lets retailers track shoppers’ movements using their smartphone identification codes and Wi-Fi Internet service, Alabama.com reported. It can tell if shoppers are repeat customers, and where they go within store boundaries, among other things.
Nordstrom was one of the earliest to test the technology. But facing backlash, The New York Times reported this week the retailer had stopped tracking customers.
“We did hear some complaints,” said Tara Darrow, a spokeswoman for the store, in The New York Times.
Still, plenty of other companies, from Family Dollar to Cabela’s to the specialty store Benetton, have tested the technology in their outlets. Complaints from customers and privacy groups alike are growing.
“The idea that you’re being stalked in a store is, I think, a bit creepy,” said Robert Plant, a computer information systems professor at the University of Miami School of Business Administration. Mr. Plant said the big difference between tracking customer preferences online, via cookies, and tracking their movements via their smartphones inside the stores on local WiFi is that the cookies protect privacy more.
“[With] a cookie, they don’t really know who I am,” he said, in The Times report.
Some customers, meanwhile, worry how companies would use the information. One quoted in The Times characterized it this way: “The creepy thing isn’t the privacy violation, it’s how much they can infer.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Chumley is a continuous news writer for The Washington Times. Previously, she was part of the start-up team for The Washington Times’ digital aggregation product, Times247. She’s also a 2008-2009 Robert Novak journalism fellow with The Phillips Foundation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Thomas the Tank Engine show is racist, British blogger accuses
- Scott Brown struggles for political traction in New Hampshire Senate race
- Satanists to use Hobby Lobby rule to skirt state abortion laws
- Rush Limbaugh: 'There is no journalism anymore'
- Toronto's Rob Ford takes rehabbed self to kids' playground for political props
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the "Islamic State" quickly and cheaply
- PRUDEN: When the hangman botches the job
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world