Posts Tagged ‘Tracking’

We’re watching: Malls track shopper’s cell phone signals to gather marketing data

In Americas, Big Brother on November 28, 2011 at 3:42 am

By Sean Gallagher

Online retailers have long gathered behavioral metrics about how customers shop, tracking their movements through e-shopping pages and using data to make targeted offers based on user profiles. Retailers in meat-space have had tried to replicate that with frequent shopper offers, store credit cards, and other ways to get shoppers to voluntarily give up data on their behavior, but these efforts have lacked the sort of data capacity provided by anonymous store browsers—at least until now. This holiday season, shopping malls in the US have started collecting data about shoppers by tracking the closest thing to “cookies” human beings carry—their cell phones.

The technology, from Portsmouth, England based Path Intelligence, is called Footpath. It uses monitoring units distributed throughout a mall or retail environment to sense the movement of customers by triangulation, using the strength of their cell phone signals. That data is collected and run through analytics by Path, and provided back to retailers through a secure website.

On March 31, Path CEO Sharon Biggar presented the tech at the ICSC Fusion conference in Los Angeles. She discussed how data collected by Footpath could be used by retailers to boost revenue. Options include tracking response to mailers and other advertising by providing the equivalent of web metrics like unique visitors, “page impressions” (measuring how many people walked past a display or advertisement), and “click-through” (determining how many people who passed an advertisement then visited the store associated with it). “Now we can produce heat maps of the mall and show advertisers where the premium locations are for their adverts,” she said, “and perhaps more importantly we can price the advertising differently at each location.”

In the US, Footpath is being trailed in two malls by Forest City, a mall real estate company that owns malls and shopping centers…

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Internet surveillance described

In Big Brother, Tech on September 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

By John Briggs

Jeff Chester, who heads the Center for Digital Democracy in Washington, D.C., was in Burlington on Thursday to deliver a warning that our personal data and our personal habits are being systematically collected and marketed for corporate and political gain.

“Powerful forces,” he said, “are shaping the future of the Internet and other digital media.”

Chester was invited to town for two talks, one at noon Thursday at the First Congregational Church and an evening presentation at Champlain College. Sponsors were the Center for Media and Democracy and organizations including Seven Days, the American Civil Liberties Union, Champlain College, the University of Vermont Libraries, Vermont Commons, Front Porch Forum, United Way of Chittenden County and the Vermont Library Association.

Chester warns that money-making pressures are making the Internet perilous for individuals’ privacy. “The technology is Orwellian,” he said.

As that technology collects information minute by minute on each Internet excursion on one’s computer or on social media or mobile phones, it provides insights about our political beliefs and practices, he said.

“We need to understand it,” Chester told a noontime luncheon audience of about 60.

“Surfing” the Web, a description from a decade or so ago, has become an outworn metaphor, as Chester describes today’s digital surveillance world. Surfers leave no trail, we do. Every online key-stroke leaves a trail of websites visited and personal preferences across the spectrum, from entertainment to pornography to medical and financial issues.

Search engines, Web sites, online marketing companies, all “know in real time,” Chester said, individuals’ interests “yesterday, today and tomorrow,” and personally tailored ads can be delivered to users at their computer and soon on TV “in a millisecond.”

A key question, Chester says, is who…

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Web tracking has become a privacy time bomb

In Big Brother, Tech on August 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

By Byron Acohido

The coolest free stuff on the Internet actually comes at a notable price: your privacy.

For more than a decade, tracking systems have been taking note of where you go and what you search for on the Web — without your permission. And today many of the personal details you voluntarily divulge on popular websites and social networks are being similarly tracked and analyzed.

The purpose for all of this online snooping is singular: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook and others are intent on delivering more relevant online ads to each and every one of us — and bagging that advertising money.

Trouble is, the tracking data culled from your Internet searches and surfing can get commingled with the information you disclose at websites for shopping, travel, health or jobs. And it’s now possible to toss into this mix many of the personal disclosures you make on popular social networks, along with the preferences you may express via all those nifty Web applications that trigger cool services on your mobile devices.

As digital shadowing escalates, so too have concerns about the erosion of traditional notions of privacy. Privacy advocates have long fretted that health companies, insurers, lenders, employers, lawyers, regulators and law enforcement could begin to acquire detailed profiles derived from tracking data to use unfairly against people. Indeed, new research shows…

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Smile! Air Force wants to track you forever with a single camera click

In Americas, Big Brother on May 20, 2011 at 12:16 am

By Noam Shachtman

Don’t bother with the iris scanner or the fingerprinting machine. Leave the satellite-enabled locators and tell-tale scents back on the base, military manhunters. If an Air Force plan works out as planned, all you’ll need to track your prey is a single camera, snapping a few seconds of footage from far, far away.

Huntsville, Alabama’s Photon-X, Inc. recently received an Air Force contract to develop such a camera. With one snap, the company claims, its sensor can build a three-dimensional image of a person’s face: the cornerstone of a distinctive “bio-signature” that can be used to track that person anywhere. With a few frames more, the device can capture that face’s unique facial muscle motions, and turn those movements into a “behaviormetric” profile that’s even more accurate.

“The proposed work will help identify non-cooperative dismounts using remote sensors, from standoff distances that were previously impossible,” reports Toyon Research Corporation, which also got an Air Force grant for bio-signature development. “This identity information can help intelligence analysts connect specific people to events and locations, and learn about insurgent operations.”

But the combo won’t just help flesh-and-blood airmen keep tabs on their…

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No place to hide: Internet tracking probe unveiled as new smartphone spy scandal unwinds

In Big Brother on April 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm

By Antifascist Calling

As the United States morphs into a failed state, one unwilling and soon perhaps, unable, to provide for the common good even as it hands over trillions of dollars to a gang of financial brigands engorged like parasitic ticks on the wealth of others, keeping the lid on is more than just an imperial obsession: it’s big business.

Earlier this month, New Scientist reported that “a new way of working out where you are by looking at your internet connection could pin down your current location to within a few hundred metres.”

Although similar techniques are already in use, they are not very accurate in terms of closing the surveillance trap. “Every computer connected to the web has an internet protocol (IP) address, but there is no simple way to map this to a physical location,” reporter Jacob Aron informs us. “The current best system can be out by as much as 35 kilometres.”

However, Yong Wang, “a computer scientist at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, and colleagues at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, have used…”

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A new Clockwork Orange? The marketing gadget that tracks brainwaves as you watch TV

In Big Brother, Tech on April 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

By The Daily Mail

Would you feel comfortable if market researchers could know your every thought?

A headband designed by San Francisco firm EmSense can sense your brainwaves as you have reactions to watching something and then record the data for researchers.

The process of measuring your reaction to something is known as ‘quantitative neurometrics’ and it can be carried out as you watch a computer or television screen.

The firm is launching its ‘in-home’ research panel employing the EmBand monitoring technology in an attempt to get better feedback on emotional responses.

The EmBand can also measure how much attention you are paying, or your ‘cognitive engagement’, by measuring brainwave activity, reported technology

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Member states to clash with EU parliament on passenger data

In Big Brother, Europe News on April 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm

By Valentina Pop

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament is likely to clash with member states over the use of EU air travellers’ personal data in the search for suspected terrorists, as the UK is pushing to change a draft bill initially designed for passengers coming from non-EU countries.

Ahead of an interior ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg next Monday (11 April), London seems to have convinced some 17 member states to change the scope of a draft EU bill regarding passenger data so that intra-EU flights are also covered.

The current EU commission proposal envisages that so-called Passenger Name Records (PNR) – data given when booking a plane ticket including home address, passport number, credit card details and mobile phone number – should be passed on to national authorities for all travellers departing and arriving in the EU from other…


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It’s tracking your every move and you may not even know

In Big Brother, Europe News, Tech on March 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

By Noam Cohen

A favorite pastime of Internet users is to share their location: services like GoogleLatitude can inform friends when you are nearby; another, Foursquare, has turned reporting these updates into a game.

But as a German Green party politician, Malte Spitz, recently learned, we are already continually being tracked whether we volunteer to be or not. Cellphone companies do not typically divulge how much information they collect, so Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cellphone company…

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