Just when it seemed that every square inch of the internet was being used to track users, the tracking has now allegedly begun of smart phones on the street. London, England is the testing ground for a new way of tracking users and the information they carry with them on their devices. One hundred recycling bins, 12 of which are equipped with Wi-fi tracking technology have been installed in London’s financial district. The bins, which also have advertising screens, make use of the individual MAC address of a smart phone to obtain a lot of information about the user.
Most of the information is geolocation-based, and includes the speed of the device, its proximity to the bin, and its manufacturer. But what good is this kind of data to advertisers? Apparently, they can use it for the design of advertising campaigns that are localized. Although revolutionary, the obtaining of user data via public wireless internet service and the resulting use of that data has many concerned, specifically privacy advocates. This group says that obtaining information in this way may violate mobile device users’ privacy, as they are not alerted to the fact that such information is being divulged.