In-store tracking should require opt-in, says U.S. Senator
Retail businesses all over the world use various strategies to perform “in-store tracking”, a practice that helps retail professionals gain insight into customer habits, interests, selling points, and so on. There’s no denying that it’s of great use to the business – it helps to explain what customers want, how you can best get them to buy your products, and so on.
Tracking is almost expected on web sales outlets like Amazon, where the site will even suggest things for you to buy based on browsing habits – but some offline retailers are leveraging technology that allows them to track customers through their smart phones connected to the business’s WiFi, for example. This brings up a couple of questions about privacy and legality – and some lawmakers aren’t too happy with it. Senator Al Franken, an outspoken politician who champions privacy rights, believes that customers should be able to allow or deny tracking when they visit retail locations.
The article published on AdWeek‘s website focuses on a debate going on between Senator Franken, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on privacy, and Euclid, a California-based start-up that engages in the aforementioned WiFi tracking activities. Euclid responded to Franken’s concern by saying that all information collected is anonymous and that the company’s website has an opt-out section where you can enter your WiFi address so as not to be tracked. However, as the article points out, customers wouldn’t know this without visiting the company website’s privacy section.
Franken’s concern is plausible and definitely raises questions about the boundaries of customer tracking. Euclid’s tools monitor when people change floors, enter the store, walk past the store, and so on – but it wouldn’t be a stretch to see this taken further in the near future if something isn’t done to regulate it.
How do you feel about in-store tracking and the privacy debate? Share your thoughts in the comments!