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Malls call off shopper cellphone tracking plans after Senator raises concerns

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Two US malls that had been planning on tracking customer's shopping patterns via cellphone location data this holiday season have temporarily called off the program due to protestations from Senator Chuck Schumer.

Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Charles Schumer

Two US malls that had been intending to track customer shopping patterns by logging cellphone location data have temporarily called off their plans, due to protestations from Senator Chuck Schumer. California's Promenade Temecula and the Short Pump Town Center in Virginia had implemented the FootPath tracking system, designed by Path Intelligence, starting on Black Friday. However, shoppers were offered no way of opting out short of turning off their cellphones. Both malls nixed the trial after Schumer wrote letters to the Federal Trade Commission and Path's CEO over privacy concerns. "It shouldn't be up to the consumer to turn their cell phone off when they walk into the mall to ensure they aren't being virtually tailed," Schumer said in a press release on the matter.

The company that owns the malls in question, Forest City Commercial Management, isn't giving up, however. They'll be meeting with Path Intelligence and Schumer's office in an effort to address the opt-out issue, and with both JCPenney and Home Depot considering the technology, we doubt this type of privacy concern will be going away anytime soon.