Schumer: Your cell phone shouldn't track you unless you say it can
Shoppers should be able to shop without their cell phones tracking their every step to learn their buying habits, Sen. Charles Schumer said in a letter to a company that creates technology to do just that.
England-based tech company Path Intelligence tested on Black Friday two trials of its FootPath Technology, which uses your phone to automatically track your location in shopping malls. The data is then used to establish consumer buying habits.
The only way to opt out is to turn off your phone, but Schumer thinks the service should only work if you explicitly give it the OK.
"Personal cell phones are just that – personal," Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "If retailers want to tap into your phone to see what your shopping patterns are, they can ask you for your permission to do so."
He also called on the FTC to examine how the tech fits into privacy laws.
The trials took place in two malls in Cleveland, but after Schumer complained, the tests were stopped by the mall operator, according to the AP, which first reported the story.
Path, which didn't return requests for comment, told the AP the technology only gathers the data so brick-and-mortar stores can better compete with online stores, which are able to easily gather enormous amounts of data on users' buying habits.
"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," Path Intelligence CEO Sharon Biggar said.
She added: "We never reveal data at an individual level, and we ask all of our clients to put up signage to let shoppers know that our system is in operation."