London, Aug. 13 (ANI): The City of London Corporation has reportedly asked a company to stop using smartphone tracking recycling bins in the name of serving targeted ads to passersbys.
The company, Renew London, has fitted devices into 12 such bins, featuring LCD advertising screens to collect footfall data by logging nearby phones through their media access control (MAC) address, the BBC reports.
Chief executive Kaveh Memari of Renew London said that the devices had only recorded 'extremely limited, encrypted, aggregated and anonymised data' and the current technology was just being used to monitor local footfall for advertisers who can buy space on these screens, in a similar way as a web page monitors traffic.
However, the city corporation officials said that irrespective of what's technically possible, anything that happens like this on the streets needs to be done carefully with the backing of an informed public.
Memari said that more capabilities to the tracking system could be developed in the future but the public will be made aware of any changes and insisted that the current system does not hold any personal information about the smartphone owners.
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties and privacy pressure group, Big Brother Watch, said that he was pleased to know that the city corporation has called a halt to this scheme adding that questions need to be asked about how such a blatant attack on people's privacy was able to occur in the first place, the report added. (ANI)