Shopping center tracking telephone ‘slug trails’

cell phone electronicsA bit of local news from my neck of the woods – the Gunwharf shopping centre (read as: ‘retail outlet experience’, or just ‘mall’) in Portsmouth is keeping a close eye on its customers by tracking their movements via their mobile phone signals. [image by A Magill]

A spokesperson explains that we shouldn’t be concerned: there’s no personal data captured, they’re just looking at what he charmingly refers to as ‘slug trails’:

“We can also see where people aren’t going or are not spending much time and can flag that up to businesses. We are trying to make the experience of shoppers better. If they are having a better experience they obviously spend more money and the shopping centre is happy.

The shopping centre may be happy, but the local population – now alerted to the matter – aren’t. Whether any of them will transcend their apathy enough to stop shopping there remains to be seen, however. In the meantime, I think I’ll set up a stall outside selling tin-foil phone sleeves …

2 thoughts on “Shopping center tracking telephone ‘slug trails’”

  1. It’s an interesting problem: is surveillance of people as a mass or group constitute an invasion of privacy similar to individual surveillance?

    It could be argued that this is equivalent to market research (except individuals aren’t volunteering or self-selecting in the same way) or a government census (except it is for commercial gain).

    So I agree that it stinks, but I doubt it’ll stop anyone from using the retail zone.

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