Plan in Place for Protecting the Privacy of Consumers in Retail Stores

Association of Strategic Marketing
October 23, 2013 — 1,254 views  
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It has been a while since retailers started tracking their consumers with the help of mobile devices. But the industry biggies as well as the government are trying to make sure that the privacy of the consumers does not get violated. They are planning to come up with privacy tools and standards which will safeguard the privacy of the shoppers.

What Option has Been Suggested to Protect the Privacy?

Democrat of New York, Senator Charles Schumer, recently announced an initiative in this matter. Many mobile tracking technology companies, along with The Future of Privacy Forum have also supported this initiative. This group works towards protecting the privacy of the consumers without disturbing the innovations in tracking technology.

The Future of Privacy Forum, executive director, Jules Polonetsky said that such steps need to be taken right when the technology is being built. These mobile tracking technologies usually track media access control (MAC) addresses which are linked with the mobile devices of the shoppers. Their systems are put to use to measure the waiting time at checkouts and trace the footpath of the consumers around restaurants or stores.

Most of the retail shops that use such tracking systems say that they don’t use it for tracking individual consumers. These systems are rather used for getting aggregate analytics data.

But the issue remains over the matter of MAC addresses and to ascertain whether the information received from them is personally identifiable. The rule says that the firm that has agreed to be a part of this initiative will automatically have to de-identify-- or ‘hash’--the information collected by them through the phone. The tracking technology firms which will have to follow this rule are iInside, Euclid, Mexia, Solomo, Interactive, Turnstyle Solutions, Brickstream and Radius Networks.

Role of the Participating Companies, Consumers and Retailers

These companies will also have to delete all the information collected by them after a certain period of time. As of now no time limit has been specified to the companies. As far as the customers are concerned the effort is to allow people in opting out of the in-store mobile tracking.

The Future of Privacy Forum has been working with a few tech partners to come up with a universal tool to give the liberty to people to step out of such tracking. Mr. Polonetsky revealed that it may take another six months to come up with such a tool. Apart from that, the retail store owners will have to notify their consumers that their device is being tracked.

Association of Strategic Marketing