Cellphone signals tracking shoppers?

Charles E. Schumer

Careful while shopping this holiday season — someone might be watching your every move.

Major retailers are considering tracking customers’ locations in stores, using anonymous signals transmitted by their cell phone antennas, Sen. Charles Schumer warned yesterday.

Stores like JCPenney and Home Depot are considering “footpath” technology, which enables store officials to track customer locations, he said. Two malls in California and Virginia adopted the technology, but halted implementation just before Black Friday throngs hit, Schumer said.

But stores or malls in New York could implement the technology without telling consumers — meaning you could be tailed and never know.

By tracking customers’ whereabouts, and by seeing where in stores they head first, retailers would be able to better position their products to consumers’ walking routes, proponents of the controversial service explain.

No phone numbers are available in the anonymous tracking, but Schumer said people should be alerted before their location is noted.

“Personal cellphones are just that — personal,” Schumer said. “It shouldn’t be up to the consumer to turn their cellphone off when they walk into the mall to ensure they aren’t being virtually tailed.”

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.


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