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Stores Using Phones To Track Your Christmas Shopping

Stores Using Phones To Track Your Christmas Shopping

While new studies show that you’re spending less on your Christmas shopping this season, the stores you are shopping at are tracking you more.

Jules Polonetsky of the Future of Privacy Forum tells KTRH they are using your smart phone to do it.

“The goal is to know how many people are in the store, how long were the wait times on line and whether people found what they wanted,” Polonetsky told KTRH.

Chris Bronk is an Information Technology Fellow at Rice and says all of this surveillance is nothing new.

“I’m surprised people are upset. You’re going into their store. They are going to do what they can do to close the sale,” Bronk said.

Polonetsky understands retailers need to make money, but he just wants them to be up front about what they're doing.

“Let them know. Tell them that you’re trying to save them wait times on line. Ask them permission if it’s an app so that they can get a coupon while they’re in the store,” Polonetsky explained. “It’s creepy when you don’t know what’s going on and you’re told that someone is watching what you’re doing.

Which is why his group, along with lawmakers in Washington, has come up with a code of conduct agreement for stores to follow.

While some like Polonetsky are upset, others like Bronk feel it could be a lot worse.

“Twenty years ago we had telemarketers calling us all the time. Ten years ago it was all about getting on these ‘Do Not Call’ lists. Now the telemarketers are pretty much marginalized,” Bronk explained.

And what is this all leading to? Bronk says it’s personalized advertising, the kind you already see if you shop online and then get emails with other offers for the kind of products you have already bought.

“It’s the game we’re looking at. That’s the natural progression,” Bronk told KTRH.

 

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