FTC Spring Privacy Series: Mobile Device Tracking

February 19, 2014 - 10:00am
Washington, D.C.

EFF Senior Staff Technologist Seth Schoen will speak at a seminar with the Federal Trade Commission about the technology and accompanying consumer privacy concerns that arise from mobile device tracking. Retailers and other businesses now have the ability to track customers' movements and collect meta data via the signals emitted from their mobile devices. 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. The seminar will address questions such as:

  • What different types of mobile device tracking are companies currently implementing, how do they work, and where are they used?
  • What are potential future uses of these technologies?
  • What are the similarities or differences between mobile device tracking and online tracking technologies?
  • What types of information and benefits do retailers gain from these technologies?
  • What benefits do consumers derive from these technologies?
  • What are the privacy and security risks associated with these technologies?
  • How are companies addressing these risks?
  • What information and choices are provided to consumers about this type of tracking?
  • How anonymous is the tracking?
  • How can companies implement the principles of privacy by design, simplified consumer choice, and increased transparency when designing and using these technologies?

FTC Conference Center 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001

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