New registry lets shoppers opt-out of location analytics

A new database now lets consumers opt-out of location analytics, circumventing companies seeking to access mobile devices for analytic purposes.

The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank seeking to advance responsible data use and consumer privacy, and The Wireless Registry, the first global registry of wireless names and identifiers, launched the new platform that will allow consumers to easily and quickly opt-out of mobile location analytics at thousands of locations in the U.S.

The program went live on Tuesday and appears to address escalating consumer privacy concerns, particularly in the wake of a spate of high-profile security breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores.

Eleven mobile location analytics companies have agreed to FPF's new Mobile Location Analytics Code of Conduct and will honor the requests of consumers who opt-out of having their location collected. Consumers opt-out by entering their phones' Wi-Fi or Bluetooth MAC address at www.smartstoreprivacy.org.

Once a consumer has opted out, participating companies will no longer associate information about that consumer's presence at a location with a MAC address. These companies will only use that MAC address to maintain the device's opt-out status. Companies will begin processing opt-outs within 30 days.

The platform was built for the Future of Privacy Forum by The Wireless Registry and will be operated under the direction of the FPF.

"Retailers, airports, and other venues increasingly use technologies that analyze customer location to help learn about wait times in check-out lines and to improve the customer experience. But with the use of data comes the obligation of committing to responsible privacy practices", said Jules Polonetsky, executive director, Future of Privacy Forum. "With The Wireless Registry, we are pleased to join with the leading mobile analytics companies to offer consumers a choice about the use of these services."

"Any object that uses wifi or Bluetooth wireless technology, such as your smartphone, home router or even your car, has a unique wireless signature and proximal identity. Registering your wireless name or SSID allows you to own your proximal identity within The Wireless Registry and create a virtual bubble that can stay in one place or go wherever you go," said Patrick Parodi, CEO and co-founder of The Wireless Registry. "We have built a system, the DNS of things, that lets people and businesses take control and add meaning to their wireless signals."

FPF worked with the companies and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (NY) to develop a Code of Conduct, announced in October 2013, ensuring that appropriate privacy controls are available as companies seek to improve the consumer shopping experience.

Participating mobile location analytics companies in the Code of Conduct and opt-out website include: Aislelabs, Brickstream, Euclid, iInside, Measurence, Mexia Interactive, Path Intelligence, Radius Networks, ReadMe Systems, SOLOMO and Turnstyle Solutions.

"This platform will give consumers the ability to seamlessly inform companies they do not want the identity of their devices used for analytics purposes," said Patrick Parodi, CEO and co-founder, The Wireless Registry. "The Future of Privacy Forum and The Wireless Registry share the mission of providing individuals with the ability to take control while giving mobile analytics companies the ability to act responsibly in honoring an individual's privacy choices."

In January, The Wireless Registry announced the creation of a global registry for wireless names and devices, making it easier to associate content to these names and provide meaning when they are detected.

For more:
-See this press release
-See this MediaPost story
-See this AdWeek story

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American Eagle Outfitters launches 100-store ShopBeacon trial 
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