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Schumer: Tracking Shoppers Via Smartphones Is A Major Invasion Of Privacy

Senator Calls On FTC To Give Consumers A Means To Opt Out
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Sen. Chuck Schumer (credit: CBS 2)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on federal authorities to regulate retailers’ practice of tracking their shoppers’ every move in their stores through smartphones.

As 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported, major national retailers such as Benetton, Family Dollar, American Apparel and Swatch are either testing or already using the smartphone technology. After you walk into their stores, they can track your every move.

“They’ll know, for instance, if you spent 15, 20 minutes in the liquor department. They’ll know if you’re looking at certain prescription drug goods,” Schumer said. “They’re going to know a lot about you by following you around, even if you don’t purchase; even if you’re just browsing.”

The data the stores collect are permanently kept on file, Schumer said. He added that even children could be tracked.

Schumer demanded that the Federal Trade Commission institute rules to allow shoppers to opt out before any tracking starts.

Currently, the only way to opt out of tracking is either to turn off the wi-fi on a smartphone, or else leave electronic devices at home when shopping, Schumer said.

He called the tracking a major invasion of privacy, akin to someone looking over a shopper’s shoulder at each and every product he or she is considering.

The technology for tracking shoppers was developed by Portsmouth, England-based Path Intelligence.

It uses antennas to capture the identification number assigned to each phone and track its movement throughout the stores. The technology can yield data such as how many Victoria’s Secret shoppers also stop at Starbucks.

In 2011, when Schumer first took issue with the technology, Path Intelligence said the it was not intended to spy on individual shoppers.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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