Spring Privacy Series: Mobile Device Tracking

Event Description

On February 19, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission staff hosted a seminar on Mobile Device Tracking.

The speakers discussed how retailers and other businesses have been tracking consumers’ movements throughout and around retail stores and other attractions using technologies that identify signals emitted by their mobile devices. While the technologies differ, many work by identifying and collecting the MAC address – which is unique to a particular device – broadcast when a mobile device searches for Wi-Fi networks. Companies can use these technologies to reveal information about consumers including the path taken throughout a location, length of time in one location, whether a visitor is new or returning, and the frequency of visits to a location. According to media reports, major retailers in the United States are using or have tested the technology in their stores in order to gain insights into the behavior of their customers.

In most cases, this tracking is invisible to consumers and occurs with no consumer interaction. As a result, the use of these technologies raises a number of potential privacy concerns and questions.

You can view an archived webcast of the event.  A transcript of the proceedings is also available below.

STAFF CONTACTS:

  • Amanda Koulousias (202) 326-3334
  • Kristen Anderson (202) 326-3209

Event Details

FTC Privacy Policy

Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) or other laws, we may be required to disclose to outside organizations the information you provide when you pre-register. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, and as a matter of discretion, we make every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments before posting them on the FTC website.

The FTC Act and other laws we administer permit the collection of your pre-registration contact information and the comments you file to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. For additional information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see the Commission’s comprehensive Privacy Policy.