Privacy Law

Shopping Malls Put Hold On Plan to Monitor Cellphones After Lawmaker Asks Questions

A plan by two shopping malls to track shoppers’ movements via their turned-on cellphones has been put on hold, after a lawmaker asked questions.

The survey, by malls in California and Virginia, began on Black Friday, as scheduled. But after someone called over the weekend on behalf of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, the project came to an abrupt halt, reports CNNMoney in an article reprinted in the Chicago Tribune.

It was to have continued until New Year’s Day.

Schumer himself said at a press conference on Sunday that shoppers should have been allowed to decide for themselves whether to participate, the article reports. He sent letters over the weekend detailing his concerns to Path Intelligence, the company that markets the tracking system, and the Federal Trade Commission.

The company that manages both malls said it has temporarily suspended tracking, in deference to Schumer, while addressing his concerns.

Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of Path Intelligence, Sharon Biggar, says that what her company’s tracking system does for shopping malls is already being done by Internet retailers, via individuals’ computers.

“We are simply seeking to create a level playing field for offline retailers, and believe you can do so whilst simultaneously protecting the privacy of shoppers,” she told CNNMoney.

An earlier post provides additional details:

Big Brother May Not Be Watching You, But Some Shopping Malls Know Where You Are at All Times

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