On Black Friday, shopping malls will be tracking your cell phones

Ah, yes. Black Friday – a special holiday in which we all get up early to go out and lose a little bit of dignity – is just around the corner! To keep that tradition going strong, shopping malls don’t want just your money this year, they also want to know your exact whereabouts.

Promenade Temecula in California and Short Pump Town Center in Virginia are two malls that are conducting an experiment to track shoppers’ locations throughout the mall using their cell phones. FootPath Technology is the tracking system that makes this all possible by gathering each cell phone’s unique identification number to follow movements. The goal is to see what type of shopping patterns take place from Black Friday all the way to New Year’s Day, such as the specific stores shoppers go to and how long they spend there.

Concerned about your privacy? The malls are putting up small signs to let people know the experiment will be taking place and that it’s completely anonymous. Anyone who feels uncomfortable can choose to opt out by shutting off their cell phone; ergo, it’s either give up your location or give up your social life. Path Intelligence, the company behind FootPath Technology, has already implemented it in certain places in Europe and Australia and very few people choose to opt out.

JCPenney and Home Depot aren’t on board for the Black Friday experiment, but are in the process of using FootPath Technology in their stores for similar reasons. What do you think about malls tracking your location?

[via CNN Money]

  • Stewart

    You have made it sound like they will be playing Big Brother. This is not the case. All they are doing is tracking total numbers of shoppers who have cell phones, and those shoppers movements. There is no way for them to identify you as an individual consumer as they do not have accesss to the celllular providers customer database.

  • I really dislike this idea, and ultimately these malls may have diminished sales solely based on this experiment. I know I wont be shopping anywhere that tracks my location, anonymous or not, without my consent prior to opt-in. Carriers however, should automatically BLOCK tracking information disclosure to companies, and have it be an “Opt-In” feature on your account, much like text messaging or data is opt-in. The only time a carrier would disclose any information regarding tracking phones should be in the cases of missing persons, kidnappings, and murders, things that help officials and concerned citizens like family find a person. Just saying.

  • Guest

    Stewart, you’d be surprised what one can do with tracking technology. It would shock you to know just how invulnerable your information really is.

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