Privacy Concerns Raised Over Mall Technology

The Promenade is reportedly tracking customer's cellphones as they shop, according to the NCT

By North County Times
|  Saturday, Nov 26, 2011  |  Updated 9:21 PM PDT
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Mall Admits to Tracking Shopper's Cellphones

NBCDFW.com

Privacy concerns are growing over a local mall's use of cellphone tracking technology.

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During this holiday season several events have sparked many to be concerned over their safety while shopping. However, a move by a local mall now has some shoppers worried about their privacy.

The Promenade mall in Temecula has begun using cellphone tracking technology in order to monitor customers in and around the shopping center, according to the North County Times.

The technology is called FootPath, and the mall’s management said Wednesday that it was completely anonymous and those worried about their data being collected should turn off their phones, the NCT reported.

"It's just a ping," Kym Espinosa, marketing director for The Promenade, told the NCT.

The "ping" will reportedly help mall officials track how people move within the space during special events as well as how long shoppers stick around before and after the event.

Espinosa said this information will help mall management judge which events to support and which ones to replace, along with a list of other benefits

Espinosa added that, though she hasn’t heard a large outcry over the new system, she has spoken to people with questions about it. To those questions she has replied that malls have been tracking shoppers for years using methods such as cameras and employing people to follow shoppers.

"We're not doing espionage here," Espinosa said.

However, even with the explanation of its use, some shoppers weren’t too happy about the technology.

"If it doesn't affect us, it ends up being used for some CIA stuff. I don't like that," said Paul Shaw, a Lake Elsinore resident visiting the mall, who spoke with the NCT.

"There's no security," added Steve Campanella, a Temecula resident.

The NCT reported that to address concerns about the system, FootPath officials have said that the data gathered by its sensors is scrambled twice to keep the phone's unique identification numbers secure.

For more on the controversy surrounding this technology visit our media partner, the North County Times.

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