tracking technology

As Florida Bans Use of Biometric IDs in Schools, Other States Scale Back on Big Brother

The sun sets on biometric tracking technology in schools, for now in Florida. Do you know where your student is? At school? On the bus? Paying for lunch in the cafeteria? Principals in thousands of the nation’s schools know the answer because radio frequency chips are embedded in students’ ID cards, or their schools are equipped with biometric scanners that can identify portions of a student’s fingerprint, the iris of an eye, or a vein in a palm.

Retailers Snooping On Holiday Shoppers Raises Privacy Concerns

PHOTO: A “heat map” shows items in a store, color-coded by how much time customers have spent looking at a given item. Only Santa, maybe, knows if you’ve been naughty or nice. But management at some 1,000 retailers this holiday season knows where you’ve been standing, how long you’ve had to wait in the checkout line, and which sweater or necktie or shovel you admired most while shopping. New technologies for tracking shoppers in-store, in real time, make this possible. Some rely on signals emitted by customers’ smart phones. Another uses images from store security cameras. Prism Skylabs’ technology analyzes security camera images to give retailers “heat maps,” on which hot colors such as red or orange denote the items customers are finding most desirable. The colors are determined, say, by how long a customer has stood in front of an item or how many times the item has been handled. Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank in Washington, D.C., tells ABC News that the past few years have seen more retailers adopt customer-tracking technology. Everyone from malls to big-box vendors to small coffee shops is testing some sort of system, he says. He thinks the situation has reached a turning point this shopping season with Apple’s introduction of customer location-sensing iBeacon technology, which can send a variety of information—including details on products, special offers and events—to shoppers standing near new iBeacon transmitters. Whether a tracking technology qualifies as “creepy” (Polonetsky’s word) […]

ACLU Push Will Put Privacy In Public Eye

MONTPELIER — From the proliferation of license plate readers to the installation of face-identification software at the Department of Motor Vehicles, state and local government in recent years has invested significant sums of money in technology that can be used to track citizens. Now one Vermont organization is saying enough is enough and will launch a campaign next week aimed at illuminating the scope of taxpayer-funded surveillance activities that have cropped up in the wake of 9/11. The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union will unveil a report Tuesday highlighting the evolution in recent years of the state’s information-gathering apparatus. As the organization says in a YouTube video released this week announcing its efforts, “We used to be a state where both the notion and the reality of privacy were true.” “But over the last dozen years, Vermont has been transformed into a state where we’re being watched,” the video says. Allen Gilbert, executive director of the ACLU of Vermont, said residents here have largely been caught off guard by the cumulative effect of the new technologies. “Many of these have crept in rather slowly, and I don’t think anyone realized the scope of the individual pieces, and the power of the system when all those pieces are aggregated,” Gilbert said. Components of the state and federal surveillance program include: license plate readers that aggregate driver data for use by law enforcement personnel; cellphone-tracking technology that allows police, often without a warrant, to determine the location of […]