Posted in 21st Century life, online tracking, parents and technology, privacy

Retailers Track Adults by Monitoring Device Wifi

We most often worry about advertisers tracking our children online but sometimes forget to think about how much we adults are followed around digitally.

FTC Privacy Series
FTC Privacy Seminar on Mobile Device Tracking

Check out the Washington Post article, Privacy Advocates Push Back on Stores’ Tracking, describing how retailers keep track their customers by monitoring smartphone wifi signals. No guidelines currently regulate this type of information collecting so no privacy parameters exist. Essentially this mobile device tracking is a way to get more information about shoppers, track what they do, and target advertising and target advertising more effectively.

The article, by Amerita Jayakuma, describes how a Maryland legislator has proposed a bill to require retailers to inform people if the store is watching them while they shop.  The Federal Trade Commission recently held a seminar on mobile device tracking.

I’ve been wondering for some time if I was tracked a few months ago when I visited a huge regional outlet mall with my husband.

We each planned to visit two stores and went our separate ways, agreeing to meet at an upscale home and cookware outlet where we both like to browse. I arrived first and wandered the aisles while waiting for my husband to arrive, and as I walked around I sent several text messages. I did not make a purchase, and when my husband arrived, we left.

The next day I began receiving email notices from the outlet. It continued for several days until I asked for them to stop. Was this just a coincidence, or did the store collect my personal information by tracking my wifi?

If I was tracked, it feels like an invasion of my privacy, but many people take the notion of privacy far less seriously than I do.

Check out this video from the Center for Investigative Journalism and NPR about tracking online activities and privacy.

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