A lawmaker is slamming Euclid Analytics for tracking people's physical whereabouts via their smartphones.
"It's one thing to track someone's shopping habits through a loyalty card or credit card purchase; folks understand that their information may be collected," Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) said Wednesday. "It's another thing entirely to track consumers’ movements without their permission as they shop, especially when someone doesn't buy anything or even enter a store."
Euclid, which recently raised $17.3 million in venture funding, uses MAC
addresses in smartphones to track people's physical movements in retail stores. The 3-year-old company tracks consumers in Nordstrom and Home Depot, among other stores, according to The New York Times.
Franken expressed his concerns with the company in a letter to CEO Will Smith. "I think that Americans have a fundamental right to not be tracked without their consent -- especially in the real, 'offline' world where they are less likely to expect it. I also have serious concerns about how Euclid will use, share, and protect the data that it collects from users in this manner," the letter says.
At the same time, Franken acknowledged in his letter that Euclid attempts to protect consumers' privacy by hashing the MAC addresses and only disclosing aggregated data.
The lawmaker asked Smith to answer a set of questions about Euclid by April 1, including how many smartphones it has tracked, where it operates and whether it tracks people who walk by stores without entering. Franken also questions whether Euclid will require law enforcement authorities to obtain warrants before obtaining information about consumers' location records, and whether Euclid can promise that it will never disclose information to data brokers.
Euclid hasn't yet responded to Online Media Daily's request for comment.