When will stores start sharing (ie, selling) this info with Facebook, Google, etc. and vice versa? Stores sell mailing lists.

When you come within range of a properly configured WiFi access point, [the store] can record the wireless MAC address of your phone – a unique 12-digit number. Every time you pass by, that AP can log that number. If you enter that store or café every day, it will soon have a detailed record of when you (or at least your phone) entered and departed.
[...]
For the first time they can easily track where customers go after they enter the store. They can identify repeat customers and first timers. They can find out whether shoppers are spending a lot of time in the toy aisle but rarely visit sporting goods or home appliances, and reconfigure the store layout accordingly. They can share data across different locations – to gauge whether the same customers spend more time in their discount outlets or shop at the locations closer to major freeway exits. They can even track people who walk by the store every day but never go in, or if more people enter after a window display is changed.



  1. ECA says:

    who NEEDS TO BE tagged??
    WHO needs a tattooed NUMBER??
    Who needs to have a digital CODE inserted into their bodies…
    We carry it around with us, ALWAYS..

    • dusanmal says:

      Ah, but you are missing Progressive obsession with tracking you. This is not perfect. Some people do not use cell phone, even more – without another database stores don’t have they don’t know exactly who you are,…
      Progressive mandate is to track and monitor 100% everyone. Even 1984 scenario ain’t enough. Hence, in our lifetimes they’ll attempt a mandate to chip/mark/otherwise label us in a way to be trackable 24/7 as condition of living. End reason – Progressives think that only they know what everyone should be doing and how and where. TO enforce that, tracking is the first need.

  2. The0ne says:

    Good news but old news. Target has one of the most sophisticated system in place. The system is so good it’ll even send out ads and what not to your phone, home even before your parents know you’re pregnant! :)

  3. Cow Power says:

    I have no problem if that’s something “stores” want to do. Your ISP already does it so why not let other people take advantage of YOUR stupidity to be treated like a human cow? Hell! Starbucks and nearly every other national coffee house does it. But again, that’s fine when you consider the fact that ANYONE can always CHOOSE to turn his/her phone (or other device) OFF!

    But with RFID that’s simply not possible since there is no on/off button. RFID is powered by induction (coils) whenever a device is close enough to a reader. And it’s those tiny RFID devices which are about half the size of a grain of rice that “they” really want to tag us human cattle with.

    RFID is already in your Passport and in some States also in your drivers’ license /I.D. card too. So just how a person is supposed to function in today’s society without those documents is what’s scarey.

    …Not that the ongoing and continuing dumbing down of America isn’t scarey too. But you do have to take note that cell phones (again) do seem to be at the heart of this phenomena. And no responsible farmer is going to just let his cattle roam free without at least branding them!

    • pedro says:

      Just look at Uncle Patso’s question, he’s a very good measure of the cows walking around with devices way more intelligent than they are.

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      “Your ISP already does it ..” Q: An ISP can sell this information to marketers, advertisers, service providers, etc?

  4. Bob Smith says:

    The distance of a wi-fi signal is a couple hundred feet…so, knowing that a particular device is a connected to an AP only means that the device is within a few hundred feet of the AP.

    That doesn’t seem to be much cause for concern about tracking your progress through a store….at best, it tells them I was in the store (which my purchase already did).

    And, what are they going to do with a MAC address unless they can tie it back to me and my other behaviors?

    • pedro says:

      I’m pretty sure they have no access point near cash registers, you can walk around safely knowing that they won’t know who you are. Idiot!

    • Anonymous Coward says:

      I take it you haven’t seen any movies or TV shows where they used radio signal triangulation to determine where a signal was being broadcast from. Seriously easy to do with computers hooked to signal strength detectors.

      Still, it’s good to know that wireless MACS are the Mark of the Beast the bible spoke of. >:D

      • CrankyGeeksFan says:

        Harris makes a product called a Stingray that basically spoofs a cell phone tower. A cell phone will see the Stingray as a cell tower and try to log in. With two stingrays, triangulation is possible.

        All that needs to be done is to adapt the Stingray to Wi-Fi and put the devices in a store.

        • pedro says:

          No need to. In three words: signal strength meter. I bet they’re logging that along with the mac address

  5. MikeN says:

    So this doesn’t work for people whose phones are turned off, or their wireless is turned off, or their phones have no wireless, or they have no cell phones.

    • pedro says:

      That’d be what, 5% of the population?

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      “… their phones have no wireless, or they have no cell phones.” The stores and manufactures don’t want to go after these customers.

  6. Uncle Patso says:

    If they want to send me coupons or offer discounts, I’m all for it.

    I don’t have a smart phone — I wonder if I could carry my niece’s wifi-enabled Kindle with me when I go shopping.

    Do those wifi signal detector devices have MAC addresses or are they just receivers?

  7. Hmeyers says:

    A MAC address doesn’t say anything about you. Meanwhile, the security cameras are watching you in the store and there is a fair chance you are paying with a credit or debit card which is not particularly “secretive” and they might even ask you for your identification if you are buying alcohol.

    You also have this unique id on your car called a license plate.

    The end of the world, this isn’t …

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      “A MAC address doesn’t say anything about you.”

      The MAC address is unique to a phone’s Wi-Fi chip.

      Just did a quick check of some Apple iPhones and the first 4 digits in their 12-digit MAC address are the same.

      I’m sure that there will be databases to look up the various cell phone makers available to the stores.

      There was a travel web site that gave better deals to Windows users than to Apple users. That was based on browser information.

      Maybe, different in-store offers will eventually be made to different customers based on hardware, software, etc.

      • pedro says:

        The first numbers of any mac address identify the chip/unit maker.

        And this was supposed to be a mostly tech blog

    • KDog says:

      I expect that there are already efforts underway to associate your electronic fingerprint with “you”. One possibility: install wireless sniffers at checkout lanes, tuned to grab your phone’s MAC (or any of the other unique IDs it sends). If you use either a credit card or any kind of loyalty card at the register, your phone becomes permanently associated with your name, address, and whatever other data the retailer has on you.

      You can probably convince a fair number of shoppers to give up their information voluntarily. Stop & Shop supermarkets in this area have a deli kiosk system that takes your order (and shopper ID card, of course), and offers to send you a text message when your order is ready.

      Now imagine that all this data is shared with all the stores in all of the different chains operated by the same company. Or all of the stores in the mall. And all of those stores’ parent companies. And sold to unrelated companies you never heard of, where it’s aggregated with their databases. The financial incentive to gather this information is huge– you can hear the marketing campaign, can’t you? “Get the name, address, and complete demographic information of every shopper who steps foot into your store, or even pauses at your window!”

      Some people will argue that there’s nothing wrong with this– if it causes a company to “send you coupons” or “tailor their offers to your interests”. I tend to look at it a different way: people invest in this technology because they expect it to make more money than it costs them. If the technology “works”, and it’s used on you, then the money is coming out of your pockets!

      The big problem, however, is that information has a tendency to be stolen and misused. When your credit card number escapes some retailer’s database, your liability is covered. You get a year’s worth of credit card monitoring and perhaps a new card number. If a customer “electronic fingerprint” database escapes, do you get a new phone? Does the retailer cover the losses when your house is ransacked by bad guys that– thanks to the tracking system– knew you were at the mall?

  8. Egon Ruuda says:

    Good luck with that, i have not owned a phone since 1999. Better hurry up an chip me as i do not intend to get one either.

  9. Admfubar says:

    Remember your cell phone is never “off” unless you pull the battery.
    Also they do this with credit card info as well. this just picks up your info even if you dont make a purchase.
    aint big (government) business great? make sure you use only cash for your purchases! and dont carry a cell phone!

    resistance is not futile!

    • Hmeyers says:

      “Remember your cell phone is never “off” unless you pull the battery.”

      Depends on the phone.

  10. Sigh Borg says:

    We can put an RFID tag in the lining of your new jacket. And we can correlate that with your credit card purchase. And we can correlate that with your surveillance photo taken as you leave the store. And we can watch you go to your car and take a picture of your license plate. And we can scan all parked cars in your neighborhood. And if you post a picture from your new camera, we can exploit the geo-tagging information.

    And since all this data is saved with time and date stamps, we can create a virtual world and replay what happened yesterday.

    Resistance is Futile.

  11. pedro says:

    Any idiot that goes around with his cell phone’s wifi on and their bluetooth discoverable deserves this and more

  12. pedro says:

    And wait until all phones have NFC chips, it’s gonna be bonanza time for the corps.

    And the cows… they’ve gotta have it because iz kewl to tap two phones and send data or pay with them

  13. axshat says:

    I don’t think so, that is the real news or fake. When the internet i online then any one track me otherwise this is not possible.

  14. Steve says:

    I just put my phone under my tin-foil hat. Blocks all that stuff.

  15. deowll says:

    I am confident that they already are.

  16. Avalon says:

    I have heard about that, now a day’s technology has spread over the world, Therefore access the customer information is not a tough task for companies and the seller. If we are using Smartphone so any business owner can track us with this wireless technology.