I hate shopping. I know what I want and I do a surgical strike. In and out; no soldier left behind.
But most normal people browse a bit. That’s where Nomi Technologies came into the picture. Nomi’s technology allows retailers to track consumers’ movements through their stores. How does it work? According to a complaint issued by the Federal Trade Commission and announced on April 23 in conjunction with a settlement, Nomi placed sensors in its clients’ stores. Those sensors collected the media access control address (MAC address) assigned to consumers’ mobile devices. Although Nomi took steps to de-identify the MAC addresses prior to storing them, the method used – hashing – still resulted in an identifier that is unique to a consumer’s mobile device and can be tracked over time, according to the FTC. And, that was the FTC’s hook.
The complaint alleged that Nomi tracked consumers both inside and outside their clients’ stores, tracking the MAC address, device type, date and time the device was observed, and signal strength of consumers’ devices. Nomi provided aggregated information on how many consumers passed by the store instead of entering, how long consumers stayed in the store, the types of devices used by consumers, how many repeat customers entered a store in a given period, and how many customers had visited another location in a particular chain of stores.
Ooh, I like that hat. But, you already knew that, didn’t you?