Virginia Mall Suspends Use Of Customer Tracking

Security system works by tracking cell phone signals

By Jonathan Wilson - WAMU 88.5 FM
|  Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011  |  Updated 8:11 AM EDT
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Va. Mall Suspends Customer Tracking System

Technology works by tracking cell signals from mobile phones.

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A Virginia shopping mall has suspended its use of a new technology that tracks customer movements by monitoring their cell phone signals after complaints by the ACLU of Virginia.

The technology is called FootPath, and has been used in Europe. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Short Pump Town Center in Richmond and a California mall owned by the same company became the first businesses to employ the application in the U.S.

Now the mall owners are holding off on FootPath due to concerns expressed by the ACLU of Virginia -- which urged customers to complain and refuse to shop at the mall. The ACLU also asked state legislators to pass a law banning the customer tracking technology.

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis says while "new technologies give businesses more ability to trace customers movements and buying habits, nothing prevents them from sharing that information with the government." Willis also says there is "no guarantee that the information collected through FootPath is completely safe from hackers."

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