We’ve shared with you before the that both private companies and law enforcement are combining images of motorists’ license plates with geographic data about where those plates were spotted. Some states have passed laws limiting how long this data can stay in databases or banning its collection altogether, and Virginia has joined that list as of this month. [More]
Everything you do online — on your phone, on your computer, with anything — leaves a digital wake. Put those trails together and you’ve got one massive big data industry that can (and does) track it all and sell it to the highest bidder. After decades of digital detritus building up, regulators and Congress both are contemplating some steps that would help protect consumers’ info. [More]
If you launch Foursquare, you expect it to know where you are. The app is explicitly designed to record your location when you open it and so nobody’s shocked if it, well, records their location when they open it. But users who download the new Foursquare are in for a nasty surprise. The app is now tracking users’ locations at all times, whether they’ve opened it or not. [More]
Remember when Nordstrom began tracking customers’ movements in and out of their stores by using smartphones’ individual Media Access Control (MAC) addresses if those phones tried to connect to in-store wifi, then abruptly stopped when the public found out about it? App developers say that Apple is ending such tracking in the next version of its mobile operating system by randomizing MAC addresses. [More]
Last week, we shared a story from a reader who got a very early wakeup call from OnTrac, on his porch with an Amazon package a few days earlier than anticipated. Ryan, meanwhile, has sort of the opposite problem. No, OnTrac isn’t pounding on his door after he went to bed. His packaged showed up in the system as “delivered” even though there was no sign of it. He actually received it the following day. Is OnTrac messing around with flux capacitors, redefining “delivered,” or is something else going on here? [More]
OnStar sent around an email to users this week letting them know they’ll be keeping close tabs on their cars, even if they cancel the service. The navigation-and-emergency service will keep tracking your car, and the company is reserving the right to anonymously resell the collected data to third parties. [More]
There’s big business in tracking web browsing, and temptation to grab more information than is legally acceptable. A lawsuit alleges a web analytics company and its clients stepped over the line in snooping on browsing habits, particularly of those who try to cover their tracks. [More]
On Monday, a man in San Francisco rode his bike up to a woman holding an iPhone and snatched it out of her hand, then took off. What he didn’t know was that the woman had just walked out of her company’s office to test a new GPS program that provides real time tracking. She went back inside, gave the police location updates over the phone, and man was arrested a half-mile away, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Crime Scene blog. [More]
MasterCard has decided to expand into online retailing, so it’s opened a store that’s sort of Amazon lite. Well, Amazon several design iterations ago. Actually the site looks like one of those themed mini-stores eBay keeps promoting these days, but the merchandise is all new and tailored to your shopping patterns. And by “tailored,” I mean that the card issuer is using special customer behavior software to predict the things you’re most likely to buy, which it then shows to you. [More]
A longtime reader sent in a couple of links to websites that let you find out more about your food supply chain, if you’re into that sort of stuff. Where is my milk from? matches carton codes with a list of dairies published by the FDA. FoodLogiq is less user-friendly and requires free registration, but you can apparently use it to track produce from participating growers. (Thanks to Cy!) [More]
UPS’ website promises that they will deliver Corey’s Dell Vizio 37″ LCD monitor tomorrow, which would be exciting, except the website has said the same thing every day for the past two weeks. UPS’ customer service representatives insist that the package is lost and that Dell needs to initiate a trace. Dell would be happy to accommodate—who wouldn’t want to trace a lost package?—but their customer service representative claims that it’s Dell policy not to initiate a trace until 48 hours after the scheduled delivery date, which according to UPS, is tomorrow.
Anthony has been a long-time Dell customer and has shared his positive experiences with friends and family, but that’s come to an end thanks to Dell’s abysmal customer service. It’s been one month since he first received his new Studio 15 Laptop, which worked correctly for 4 days. Since then, he’s been on the phone with Dell for a total of 14 hours, he’s watched a Dell CSR remotely break his laptop by interrupting the BIOS flash, he’s been locked out of the data on his hard drive, and there’s still no replacement laptop on the way to him. When he copied us on this email, he added, “All I wanted was the computer that I paid for long ago.”
Last month we reported on Charter Communications’ plan to start tracking its users internet activity in order to serve more targeted ads. Charter claimed customers could opt-out of the service, but a reader reviewed Charter’s opt-out method and discovered that even if you said no, you would still be tracked. Yesterday Charter announced it was abandoning the program and will not track its customers’ activities after all—at least for the immediate future.