FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2013
SCHUMER, TECH COMPANIES AND PRIVACY LEADERS ANNOUNCE IMPORTANT AGREEMENT TO ENSURE CONSUMERS HAVE OPPORTUNITY TO “OPT-OUT” BEFORE STORES CAN TRACK THEIR MOVEMENT VIA THEIR CELL PHONES – A PRACTICE THAT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY MORE COMMON
In July, Schumer Warned Many National Chains Are Testing Technology That Would Automatically Tracks Shoppers’ Locations Through Their Smartphones And Permanently Store The Data
Schumer, ‘The Future of Privacy Forum’ (FPF) Release New Code-of-Conduct Agreed to By Location-Technology Companies
Code Includes A Requirement of Clear, In- Store Signage That Tracking Technology Is Being Used And Instructions for How To “Opt-out” So Stores Can’t Track You
New York, NY – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and a group of leading location analytics companies – including Euclid, iInside (a WirelessWERX company), Mexia Interactive, SOLOMO, Radius Networks, Brickstream and Turnstyle Solutions – today announced that they have agreed to a Code of Conduct to promote consumer privacy and responsible data use for retail location analytics. The companies responded to privacy concerns raised by Senator Schumer and the FPF about the use of this new technology. The code of conduct includes in-store posted signs that alert shoppers that tracking technology is being used, and instructions for how to opt out.
“This is a significant step forward in the quest for consumer privacy,” said Schumer. “This agreement shows that technology companies, retailers, and consumer advocates can work together in the best interest of the consumer. There is still much more work to be done and I will continue to push for privacy rights to be respected and strengthened, but this represents real progress and I thank the Future Privacy Forum and these tech companies for their hard work hammering out this agreement.”
“Today, location analytics companies have introduced a comprehensive code to ensure they have data protection standards in place to de-identify data, to provide consumers with effective choices to not be tracked and to explain to consumers the purposes for which data is being used,” said Jules Polonetsky, executive Director of the Future of Privacy Forum. “These standards ensure that consumers understand the benefit of the bargain and have choices about how their information is used while allowing technology to continue to improve the shopping experience. As we quickly approach the holiday shopping season, this is not only the right move – but a timely one as well, adding a layer of trust, choice and transparency onto a shopping experience that in 2013 is more mobile and hi-tech than ever before.”
In July, Schumer warned that major national retail chains were testing technology that would allow them to automatically track shoppers’ location through stores. Following this warning, FPF worked with the technology companies to develop a Code to ensure that appropriate privacy controls are in place as retailers seek to improve the consumer shopping experience. These technology companies use mobile device Wi-Fi or Bluetooth MAC addresses to develop aggregate reports for retailers.
The Code puts guidelines in place to create best data practices that will provide transparency and choice for consumers. The Code calls for the display of conspicuous signage by retailers and for a central opt-out site for consumers.
"We are just beginning to see the possibilities that in-store analytics can bring to shoppers and to retailers, and yet, as with any new technology, there is the chance for confusion about the intent and possible implications of such technology,” said Steve Jeffery, CEO, Brickstream. “We applaud the Future of Privacy Forum for taking the lead in bringing retailers and technology providers together to address these important issues.”
“We would like to thank Senator Schumer for his leadership on this issue,” said Will Smith, CEO, Euclid. "Privacy has always been a priority as we've designed and built our services, and we have been working diligently with FPF to release best practices for the retail analytics industry as a whole.”
"iInside and industry partners have made it a top priority to assure that consumers are well-informed and their personal privacy and identity are protected. The newly announced code is a major step forward in establishing and communicating clear and concise standards across our industry," said Jim Riesenbach, CEO, iInside Inc.
“The release of a Code of Conduct to guide industry practice ensures that businesses and retailers are able to enhance their customers’ experience without compromising their privacy,” said Glenn Tinley, President & Founder, Mexia Interactive. “Business and consumers also can be assured that a company listed on theSmartStorePrivacy.com website has committed to following the code.”
"Proximity and location technology is evolving rapidly, and we want to make sure it’s deployed in an open, responsible and trustworthy manner. The retail location analytics Code of Conduct is a solid step in the right direction," said Marc Wallace, Co-Founder & CEO, Radius Networks, Inc.
“SOLOMO sees privacy as an opportunity for retailers to build trust with customers,” said Liz Eversoll, CEO, SOLOMO. “We’ve collaborated to develop the Code of Conduct to ensure transparency and empowerment for retail customers. Indoor location technology will offer customers new in-store experiences, special deals, and localized services as retailers introduce it in their stores. Everyone wins.”
“Turnstyle Solutions is pleased to partner with the Future Privacy Forum in the development of this Code of Conduct. We are confident the code lays the foundation necessary to protect sensitive consumer information, while offering retailers and consumers services that enhance their shopping experience," said Devon Wright, Co-Founder, Turnstyle Solutions.
About the Future of Privacy Forum
The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) is a Washington, DC based think tank that seeks to advance responsible data practices. The forum is led by internet privacy experts Jules Polonetsky and Christopher Wolf and includes an advisory board comprised of leading figures from industry, academia, law and advocacy groups.