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When you go shopping in a mall, you create an invisible path as you head from one store to another. For the manager of a mall, it would be useful to see the paths made by you and hundreds of other shoppers over time. Now, there’s a tool for detecting those paths: the cell phone…

Handsets frequently send tiny communications — basically saying “here I am” — to cell towers and other receivers, regardless of whether you’re using them.

With triangulation, it’s possible to determine the handset’s (and thus your) approximate location. Over a period of time, your path through a mall or other space can be tracked…

The potential applications are powerful, says Roger Dennis, an associate with innovation consultancy Innovaro, because cell phones “become de-facto tracking devices when applied to populations.”

“Essentially what you are doing is watching rivers of people,” he says.

These dudes just want to map your waterworks. Sell the info.

No questions of privacy here. Right?




  1. Last I checked this sort of monitoring cell traffic was illegal – but it would be extraordinarily helpful for vehicular traffic planning.

  2. julieb says:

    I don’t like this idea.

  3. @#1
    No, it wouldn’t be helpful for any planning… As long as it is opt-in and preferably paid (someone is getting something useful from you) – it is OK to provide it as a choice. Any monitoring by default is invasion of privacy that would be exploited (for good and bad) ASAP.

  4. Improbus says:

    As long as no identifying information is used I have no problem with this but how likely is that? I have to assume that a cell phone company would have no compunction about selling every scrap of data they have on you to the highest bidder or the government or both.

  5. Ron Larson says:

    This method is already used as an effective and inexpensive method to watch for traffic problems on roads.

    If a there is a stretch of road where cells phones normally travel 40mph suddenly stops to 5, then that means there is an accident or something blocking traffic.

    By watching the movement of phones over roads over time it becomes easy to establish patterns and to detect changes.

  6. brendal says:

    I used to work for a MAJOR (that guy who also owns Sotheby’s and went to jail for it) mall developer. When you enter a mall, it’s private property. Don’t go if you don’t want to be traced. It’s that simple. It’s not public property.

  7. amodedoma says:

    Oh come on, how can anybody think that privacy rules apply to a signal you’re transmitting over radio wave. That’s like screaming your secrets. The problem with the whole privacy thing is people don’t really know the difference between something that’s private and something that’s not. Personally I’m not getting paranoid till the government tries to stick an RFID chip under my skin, then I’ll go Luddite on ’em.

  8. tallwookie says:

    only works when the device is on. Dont like it? turn the phone off

  9. ECA says:

    iM JUST WAITING…
    for them to start broadcasting in Malls, over BT..

    Its private property, and as long as they dont bother a CALL, on the cell…they can ALMOST do anything they wish..

  10. the answer says:

    So they are going to track when i go to a mall and what stores I go into. and why would anyone buy such info?


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