Two malls in California and Virginia had planned to use this holiday season to track visitors via the cell phone devices. The tech vendor for the project, a UK-based company called Path Intelligence, has deployed this technology in retail centers in Australia and the UK without much backlash, according to its CEO Sharon Biggar (via CNNMoney). However, when CNN reported news of the project earlier this month, eyebrows were raised and at least one Senator, Charles Schumer (D-NY), made inquiries.
Now, the manager of the properties, Forest City, says it will pause its program until it is able to discuss it with the Senator and offer consumers a way to opt out. Other retailers are interested in the technology as well, according to comments made by Biggar to CNNMoney.
She said Home Depot and JC Penney had looked at the application as well.
Schumer's interference could hardly have come as a surprise. Increasingly, consumers and Congress are pushing back against mobile tracking to a far more aggressive degree than they do online tracking.
In September a class action lawsuit was filed against Microsoft for violating consumers' do not track requests with its Windows Phone 7. The suit alleges that Microsoft transmits location and other data about a consumer via the device's camera even after the consumer has requested not to be tracked.
Apple, Google Outrage
There was also widespread outrage when it was revealed that both Google Android and Apple iOS have the ability to track its users.
There were also several mobile privacy bills introduced in Congress this year.