Stores say they won’t track your phone as you shop — if you tell them not to


Shoppers are walking around with little homing devices in their pockets, better known as smartphones. Retailers like Nordstrom love the idea of using the phones to track your movement as you walk up and down their aisles as your activity provides valuable shopping data and a chance to offer coupons. But some people, including Sen. Al Franken, are less impressed with this idea and don’t want to be followed. Now, there is a proposed solution from the industry in the form of a code of conduct: participating companies say they will post a sign in stores to alert shoppers to the tracking and also provide a way for shoppers to opt out. Forbes has more details, including the helpful tip that you can avoid much of this in the first place by turning off your WiFi and Bluetooth.



The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco concluded last month that unencrypted Wi-Fi signals are not “readily accessible to the general public.” As a result, the court ruled that Google may have violated federal wiretapping laws when it collected unencrypted Wi-Fi data as part of its Street View project.

How is this being opt out any different? I don’t have to go into their store or see their sign for them to sniff my Wi-Fi signal.

Jeff John Roberts

Interesting point. In this case, though, I believe the stores are detecting the setting in phones’ that attempt to sign on to WiFi, rather than routers. But, yes, the legal issues do seem akin to those that arose from Google’s WiFi sniffing from cars.

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