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Smartphone shopping: “Advert to aisle 4 please”

2016-01-26 02:40

If you’ve ever worked strange hours you may well have experienced the weirdness of late night shopping.

Navigating pallets, cages and assorted debris on the floor while staff – who are best left out of the limelight of day time trading – scurry around filling shelves is a challenge on a par with finding any kind of customer service in the dimly moonlit hours.

Survive the health and safety at work challenge though, and you’ll be rewarded with a boot load of beer and, if you’ve been especially forward in your thinking, perhaps a couple of days food too. Failing that, the garage on the way home sells Pringles, eh.

But whatever you come away with, you’ll be relieved that you weren’t followed around the store – after all, all the other people shopping at 1 am are weirdos right?

Not so fast buster… you probably were tailed, you just weren’t aware enough to notice.

After all, it wasn’t that 18 stone unwashed guy with nothing but an axe head in his basket that was watching you. It wasn’t the security guard tilting and panning his cameras as you navigated aisle 14 either.

It was your phone.

If you’d shopped during the day like sane people do, you’d have been awake enough to realise that a 3-for-2 offer display lit up in from of your favourite beverage, but only when YOU approached it.

Why?

Because retailers are becoming increasingly interested in the next logical step up from loyalty cards – they not only want to know who you are and what you buy, they also want to know whereabouts you are in the store.

Ostensibly a way of encouraging extra sales and thus ‘helping’ the customer, such technology has to be kept in check though.

Even though it has some benefits, such as helping add more to a customer’s trolley, crowd control and retail buying decisions, it also has the potential to infringe upon consumers’ privacy if not reigned in with checks and balances.

As Dr Simon Rice, Group Manager for the Technology team which provides technical expertise to the ICO, says:

When this type of technology is used to generate aggregate statistics about daily visitor numbers or to generate an alert if an area is overcrowded, it can be done in a privacy-friendly manner.

But…

Even if the identification of individuals is not the intended purpose, the implications of intelligent video analytics for privacy, data protection, and other human rights are still significant.

Rice offered up a list of recommendations to help tackle the potential privacy issues caused by this type of tech, highlighting how the key point was transparency – individuals should not be kept in the dark when it comes to having their data collected. Likewise they should be informed how that data will be used.

Whether the thought of retail tracking enthrals or enrages you, its here to stay. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the US where its been prevalent for some time now, along with its fair share of privacy issues.


Source: 6592=p?/hctawytiruces/ei.gnitlusnochb

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