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Behavioral tracking

Christophe Vorlet

It’s called behavioral tracking:

Cameras that can follow you from the minute you enter a store to the moment you hit the checkout counter, recording every T-shirt you touch, every mannequin you ogle, every time you blow your nose or stop to tie your shoelaces.

Web coupons embedded with bar codes that can identify, and alert retailers to, the search terms you used to find them and, in some cases, even your Facebook information and your name.

Mobile marketers that can find you near a store clothing rack, and send ads to your cellphone based on your past preferences and behavior.

To be sure, such retail innovations help companies identify their most profitable client segments, better predict the deals shoppers will pursue, fine-tune customer service down to a person and foster brand loyalty. (My colleagues Stephanie Rosenbloom and Stephanie Clifford have written in detail about the tracking prowess of store cameras and Web coupons.)

But these and other surveillance techniques are also reminders that advances in data collection are far outpacing personal data protection.

From The New York Times
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