Back Pocket Surveillance 24/7

I don’t really want my iPhone ratting me out when I walk into a retail store, but there are entire mobile-tracking industry being built on just that idea. Now, this […]

I don’t really want my iPhone ratting me out when I walk into a retail store, but there are entire mobile-tracking industry being built on just that idea.

Now, this is nothing new for the Amazons of the world; those beasties slice, dice and transmogrify your personal data eight ways to Sunday.

Right now your local strip mall shop is probably using a back room hacked piece of software that tells the owner how many people entered and how many of those entering actually bought something.  That’s known as “conversion rate,” nice to know, but BFD if you’re a data hound.

Retailers want to to turn you into data meat. A company called nomi is gonna help them do that.

Siemens Telex uit 1959

Siemens Telex uit 1959 (Photo credit: Marco Raaphorst)

“If I were to walk into a store, leave and come back, there would be no way to know whether it’s the same person,” says Wesley Barrow, Nomi’s chief revenue officer.

His answer?  Use smart phones and tablets. By tracking the unique WiFi signal on each customer’s device, Nomi’s software system, usually installed on the store’s router, could track such things as how long people stayed in a shop or whether they returned, and then store the information in the cloud for further analysis.

The bigger potential, however, may be in a capability the company is testing now. Customers who opt in and allow their identities to be known, would be eligible for loyalty rewards based on the number of visits to the store.

What’s more, if, say, you have a history of buying clothing in certain colors online or offline, that information automatically could come up on a salesclerk’s smartphone or tablet.
“There are all kinds of things you can do once you know someone has been inside the store,” says Barrow.

And that’s supposed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy?  I’m telling you, the more I learn about the potentially nefarious privacy raping possibilities of this personalized tracking device I carry in my pocked called my “All.Seeing.Smartphone,” the more I want to ditch it for an old-time Telex machine.  I’m serious.

Meeks out…

 

Cisco’s “The Network” contributed to this report.

 

About brock

Brock is currently the Executive Editor at Atlantic Media Strategies and former Chief Washington Correspondent for MSNBC; he is the founder/creator/editor of CyberWire Dispatch, the Net's pioneering online journalistic news service. Previously he was the Director of Communications for the Center for Democracy & Technology, a non-profit, Washington, D.C.-based public interest group working to keep the Internet open, innovative and free. The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect the opinions, attitudes or policy positions of his employer(s) past or present.