Sign outside Officeworks store sparks anger

Sign outside Officeworks store sparks anger

An Officeworks customer has complained about a sign seen outside a Sydney store advising customers of the retailer’s attempt at a “mobile phone location monitoring” program.

The notice said the CBD-based retailer would collect the data to “optimize” the store and customer experience.

“This is part of our ongoing efforts to improve service and provide our customers with the best shopping experience,” the sign reads.

“No personal or identifying information will be collected as part of this study.”

Customers were informed that if they wanted to opt out of surveillance while in store, they would have to turn off their Wi-Fi or put their phones on airplane mode.

A photo of the message was posted to Reddit by user Equivalent-Ad7207, along with the caption: “What do Hunter Street Officeworks think they (sic) are playing?”

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Other users also seemed unimpressed, with one person claiming that Officeworks can “improve the customer experience” by not tracking the locations of people who are in the store.

Other comments claimed that several stores and malls are already using the technology, although most do not inform customers in this way.

“It’s going to suck not being able to go to most major chain stores or malls,” wrote one Reddit user.

“They’ve all been doing this for ages. This is just the first time I’ve seen a sign informing the customer.”

Another person agreed that this type of tracking has been around for a while, but noted that it’s “still gross.”

“These things have been going on for years on a larger scale with Bluetooth beacons connected to outlets and things like that,” they said.

“When you go to a mall, they (advertisers/mall management) know what stores and areas you shop or hang out in.

“Started around the same time phone updates made it harder to permanently turn off Bluetooth. Still disgusting.”

Commenting on news.com.au, a spokesman for Officeworks said Wi-Fi signal monitoring is currently being used in 15 stores to “learn more about customer movements to improve store layouts and customer experiences”.

“At no time is personally identifiable information collected and we have prominent signs in store providing customers with information on how to opt out by simply turning off their WiFi or using Airplane mode while in store ‘ they repeated.

“The information collected cannot be used for marketing purposes. Officeworks always handles data securely and carefully and complies with all relevant laws.”

Sneaky Wi-Fi tracing technique used by businesses

Last month, cyber security engineer Rafig Jabrayilov warned that companies are using intelligent software capable of tracking the location of each customer’s phone.

The cyber expert said the software is so precise that it can pinpoint how long each customer spent looking at specific products on specific shelves.

“For any person trying to keep their personal information private, this is not fair. Every single person has the right to protect their privacy,” said Mr. Jabrayilov.

“A purchase in a store should not mean that you have to give out your personal information.”

Businesses can track the physical location of their customers through easily accessible information distributed through their smartphones.

Apple and Android devices emit radio waves between 10 and 20 meters in diameter that transmit their MAC (Media Access Control) address – a 12-digit code that is unique to each device and identifies it.

Stores like Nordstrom in the United States – the focus of a New York Times bombshell – can set up sensors in physical stores that provide accurate information about consumer behavior.

Mr Jabrayilov said major Australian retailers are also involved in tracking consumer devices through their camera faces but he was in no position to share the names of the outlets.

“You’re basically trying to identify your gender, which store you frequent, how many people pass by and enter stores, and which department they frequent,” Mr Jabrayilov said.

Bunnings and Kmart are investigated

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the Australian Data Protection Authority was investigating Bunnings and Kmart’s use of facial recognition technology.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) ​​confirmed it has opened an investigation into the technology, which focuses on how the retail giants are handling customers’ personal information.

The investigations followed a report by consumer group Choice on retailers’ use of facial recognition technology.

Choice analyzed the privacy policies of 25 major retailers and found that The Good Guys, Kmart and Bunnings recorded their customers’ biometric data.

Face recognition uses video cameras to analyze images and capture each person’s unique facial features, known as a faceprint.

But research by Choice found 76 per cent of Australians were unaware retailers were doing this – despite signing up at the storefront.

Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk has also launched a preliminary investigation into Good Guys Discount Warehouses (Australia) after the company reportedly stopped using facial recognition technology.

Bunning’s Chief Operating Officer Simon McDowell said he is aware of and will work with OAIC investigations into the use of facial recognition technology in its stores.

“As we have explained, this technology is used solely to ensure team and customer safety and to prevent illegal activity in our stores and we have strict controls over its use,” he said.

After the Choice research was released, Australians shared their anger, branding the use of the advanced cameras and the collection of personal information as “creepy” and “disgusting”.

Some said they would stop shopping in stores as a result.

– With NCA NewsWire

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