Kingsgate shopping mall in Huddersfield is utilizing a new technology for tracking it's patrons.
Once a shopper enters the mall with the WiFi enabled on their phone the software will detect them, assign an ID and track their movements throughout the mall. The purpose of tracking the visitors is to better served marketing strategies by each of it's retailers by noting when they entered the mall, where they visited, how long they stayed, and if they have returned to the mall again. The reach of this new platform developed by Purple WiFi expands beyond the inside of the mall to include even passerby's who may be window shopping at the time. In exchange for this data the mall offers free WiFi for those who have submitted a registration through their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
The manager of Kingsgate noted that by having them access the WiFi through their registered accounts the data collected is more accurate then it's current infrared entry point system. The shopping center now knows who to email advertisements to and if they do indeed return. Purple WiFi noted the data collected includes: names, email addresses, gender, and location but is currently in use in over 50 countries. If a patron chooses not to register but does have the phone's WiFi turned on, the system will still assign an ID and track the movements without the personal data collected.
This has upset some, like Nate Pickles of Big Brother Watch, who is quoted as saying: “If the information is valuable then why don’t they pay people to hand it over? Yet again the law has been shown to give little protection to consumer privacy and allow a company to track us without our permission.”
31 MARCH 2014, United Kingdom
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