Whether U.S. citizens actually have any type of privacy anymore seems to be a growing topic of discussion among Americans. Concerns range from the government spying on phone conversations, to online ads that are just a little TOO applicable, to retail stores tracking you while you shop. Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY has begun to turn his attention to this issue.
During his keynote speech at the recent Street Fight Summit in New York City, Schumer addresses what is being done to ensure location privacy for consumers.
Schumer talked about his goal for New York City to become the most tech savvy city in the U.S. Currently, the technology sector is a prominent industry in the area and, according to Schumer, its growth does not appear to be slowing down.
The amount of information about consumers that comes with geo-targeting gives technology companies and retailers an enormous amount of information and with that comes great responsibility. The concept of “Big Brother” comes to mind, and many consumers are uncomfortable with the idea of being “watched.”
Schumer cited FTC Guidelines for local tracking, published in February 2013, that detail two major changes that he says are needed to address privacy concerns.
First, any establishment that participates in geo-targeting towards mobile devices should provide notice at the location, and second they should obtain consent for content that consumers would find sensitive (contacts, photos, calendar, etc.). The idea is that consumers want to know they are being tracked and they want to be given the opportunity to opt out. By establishments doing this, consumers will know exactly what they are getting themselves into.
The Senator worked with the Future of Privacy Forum to create a new recommended code of conduct which was announced about two weeks ago. This new code provides best practices for companies to abide by these new FTC guidelines. The FPF has also created a website called SmartStorePrivacy.com that has a list of technology companies that have committed to following this new code of conduct.
While the companies that have developed the technology for geo-targeting have agreed to the terms of the code of conduct by the Future of Privacy Forum, there are yet to be any retailers that have signed and agreed to these terms.
Schumer praised the digital advertising industry for being the “perfect example of politicians and business working together” to make U.S. consumers more comfortable with this innovative and controversial form of advertising. He also praised the industry for stepping up and trying to fix the problem.