Tag, You’re It – Privacy Laws Trailing Snoopermarket Tech

In Tulsa, a woman picks up a lipstick from a discount-store display. In Cincinnati, more than 700 miles away, a team of researchers watches her turn the box over in her hands then set it on the shelf next to the display before selecting another shade. Before she walks away, they make a note of the color she rejected, and the one she put in her shopping basket.

In Cambridge, England, a display holding razor blades conceals a small camera that takes pictures whenever anyone slides out a package of blades. A tracking device embedded in the package also triggers cameras at the register and the door.

This isn’t a George Orwell story. It’s recent history. Each of these incidents happened. And as merchants, employers and governments perfect surreptitious surveillance, the practice could become commonplace. It’s time to get control of this new technology, before it becomes a tool to control us.

At every stage of the buying game, consumers trade privacy for convenience and low prices. The use of credit and debit cards creates a detailed record of past transactions. Internet sites monitor clicks and page views. Cameras monitor the ebb and flow of traffic in a retail store. Read it here.