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Attention Black Friday Shoppers: Your Mall May Be Tracking You

Two prominent shopping facilities will be monitoring shoppers via cell phones.

 

Big Brother is a Black Friday shopper, too.

There's a published report that two prominent malls -- one in Southern California, one in Virginia -- will be tracking shoppers via their cell phone usage.

The management company of both malls, Forest City Commercial Management, says personal data is not being tracked.

"We won't be looking at singular shoppers," said Stephanie Shriver-Engdahl, vice president of digital strategy for Forest City, in the report on cnn.com. "The system monitors patterns of movement. We can see, like migrating birds, where people are going to."

The company is preemptively notifying customers by hanging small signs around the shopping centers. Consumers can opt out by turning off their phones.

The tracking system, called FootPath Technology, works through a series of antennas positioned throughout the shopping center that capture the unique identification number assigned to each phone (similar to a computer's IP address), and tracks its movement throughout the stores, according to the report.

The system can't take photos or collect data on what shoppers have purchased. And it doesn't collect any personal details associated with the ID, like the user's name or phone number. That information is fiercely protected by mobile carriers, and often can be legally obtained only through a court order.

Atlanta-based Home Depot has considered implementing the technology but is not currently using it any stores, a company spokesman said in the report.

But the question: Do you like the idea? Tell us in the comments.

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