Retailers Are Tracking You Through Your Phone

According to a recent report by Business of Fashion, a large number of retailers are “buying mobile-phone data that can track where and for how long people shop, eat, see movies — and where they go before and after.”

The practice, per BoF, is called “location analytics,” and the worldwide industry is “expected to grow to $15 billion by 2023.” And retailers aren’t shy about utilizing the service, either: “More than half the retailers surveyed last year said they partner with third-party firms to collect location data.”

One such firm is UberMedia, which says it “keeps an eye on 800 million active devices per month, and has 14 trillion total location observations and 4.5 years of historical data,” numbers that are not only preposterously large, but also utterly terrifying.

Another firm, “collects location data for 72 categories… and helps businesses determine whether specific personality types correlate with sales. Frequent topics in the ‘hipster’ segment, for example, include antiques, vinyl record albums and coffee.”

If this all sounds like a full-on invasion of your privacy, that’s because it is. And it gets worse: “To glean details, including an individual’s age, income, ethnicity, education level, number of children and more, firms connect the phone’s evening location with U.S. Census data,” the story said, and they contextualize that data by seeing “where the phone sleeps at night.”

And if tracking where you sleep wasn’t creepy enough, the story also noted that in addition to location data, some firms track “psychographic data,” which includes “a person’s behaviour and spending habits, and social-media chatter.”

Big Brother is real – and it’s being used to sell you crap.

You can read more about it at Business of Fashion.

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