Retailers use tracking information to collect data about how shoppers navigate the aisles and how much time is spent looking at specific merchandise or displays. In response, the Future of Privacy Forum launched SmartStorePrivacy.org, that offers consumers a method to opt out of location tracking by entering their 12-digit WiFi or Bluetooth access control address. Names are not required.
The Privacy Forum worked with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a vocal critic of companies that track consumers while shopping. In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last year, Sen. Schumer called for an investigation of the tracking, which he said could be an unfair or deceptive practice if businesses “fail to notify shoppers that their movements are being tracked in a store or to give them an opportunity to opt out of this type of tracking before it begins.”
Eleven mobile location analytics firms –Aislelabs, Brickstream, Euclid, iInside, Measurence, Mexia Interactive, Path Intelligence, Radius Networks, ReadMe Systems, SOLOMO Technology, and Turnstyle Solutions – have already signed the code of conduct and stated their intent to respect the choice of consumers registering on the site.
After a consumer registers his or her access control number, the companies will stop associating location data with that wireless device. An FAQ page on the site explains that consumers may change their mind and allow companies to collect their information, even after opting out.
Although the new site went live in mid-February, it will take 30 days for the opt-outs to take effect.
To visit the opt-out site, click here.
Why it matters: The new Web site is another step toward addressing mobile tracking. The FTC recently held a seminar on the issue, and the Privacy Forum has also called on retailers and other business owners that track consumers to post signage informing customers about the opt-out program.