Friday, August 08, 2008

Cellphone Tracking Database

Do you carry your cellphone everywhere you go? Stores are implementing a tracking system that uses your cellphone's unique Radio Frequency ID number to track which stores you visit, what items you purchase, how long you stay, in which parts of the store you spent the most time, and even what items you looked at. Certain department stores have refloored their stores with built-in scales for weighing customers. Your cellphone's unique RFID can then be linked to all of this data.

The advocates for this technology claim it does not contain personal data, and that it is not directly linked to a person's identity. This is simply not true. There are numerous ways your can quickly and easily be identified with this information. As the NBC News documentary, 'Big Brother, Big Business', shows, retailers routinely capture the faces of their customers. If you use a debit card, your name is recorded with every purchase. Companies can easily create a full profile of every customer with this information.

Using a pre-paid cellphone and paying with cash might make it harder to be tracked, but not much harder. Your face, habits, what vehicle you drive, along with your license plate, can be recorded, as well. This info is then fed into a database, kept by a private corporation, Acxiom, where it is then sold to anyone willing to pay for the information. Who would buy this info? You would think other retailers, right? Wrong. The US Government is their biggest customer.

Why should this bother you? Because your privacy rights are being violated! The potential for abuse of this information is overwhelming. With all of the government and bank data leaking out making the news lately, I wouldn't trust the government with my phone number, much less all the information about where I go, what I buy, where I bank, etc... The only people NOT being tracked are CRIMINALS! Doesn't that seem a little backwards?

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Blogger Darnell said...

*yawns* You should be much more concerned about the individual people gathering the information. Acxiom is a large corporation, carefully scrutinized by both the government and hackers. The Gap, Ann Taylor or whoever initially collects that data probably stores it in a *much* less secure environment. Probably in-store via an instantly hackable wireless network.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Tonewah said...

Honestly, I don't think ANYONE should be compiling databases like this. The possibiliy of abuse at all levels warrants concern.

You are correct; at the local level there is a tremendous risk of abuse with this kind of information.

At the governmental level, the US government is prevented BY LAW from compiling just these kinds of databases. This is simply a way to bypass those laws.

I don't want ANYONE compiling a list of what I buy, where I go, etc... What's next, block captains? Wait, they don't need those, there are cameras popping up on every street corner.

1:36 PM  

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