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Benjamin Oakes

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Hi, I'm Ben Oakes and this is my geek blog. Currently, I'm a Ruby/JavaScript Developer at Liaison. Previously, I was a Developer at Continuity and Hedgeye, a Research Assistant in the Early Social Cognition Lab at Yale University and a student at the University of Iowa. I also organize, ICRuby, OpenHack Iowa City, and previously organized NewHaven.rb. I have an amazing wife named Danielle Oakes.

Filtering for the Privacy category. Clear

Privacy in 2013: Retail stores track you using your smartphone

by Ben

How Retail Stores Track You Using Your Smartphone (and How to Stop It).

I had figured brick-and-mortar stores would want to be able to do the same amount of massive digital tracking as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc… but I hadn’t realized this was a way that it could be done. Basically, stores can keep track of a unique identifier (MAC address) when your WiFi passively searches for a signal. This is without your involvement, as long as your device’s WiFi is on. It can be correlated with the security camera footage as well, automatically tracking your reactions to products as you walk around a store. Whoa.

That seems like it should need an opt in rather than an opt out (turning off WiFi, in this case). It’s not clear which stores do this or which plan to, but I would guess most major ones are at least considering it. The mall scene of Minority Report keeps getting closer and closer…