The habits, choices and preferences of the consumers are increasingly important for the retail industry. To that end, many retail stores actively gather location data of the users when they are within a retail location. A US Senator now aims to regulate and restrict such industry practices.
The ‘Do Not Track’ features denotes that users choose to opt out of such programs which collect their personal data. In the realm of web, this feature is now supported by many websites and nearly all major browsers. However, in the case of the brick and mortar retail stores, the initiative by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is a first.
Schumer has long been an advocate of consumer rights. In collaboration with ‘Future of Privacy Forum’, he has developed a code of conduct which defines how the companies may collect user’s location data in retail stores. The code of conduct says that companies should clearly provide privacy notices, both online and at the retail locations, so that users are very well aware of any of their personal data that is being gathered.
But the code is entirely voluntary. Although a number of major retail analytics companies have signed up for it, there are no repercussions for the violation of the code. This means that even if those who have signed up the code decide not to follow it, they can’t be held accountable legally.
The code also proposes a single hub where users can opt out of having their location data tracked via smartphones when visiting retail stores. For consumers, this can be incredibly convenient. But it remains to be see how far this code is enacted and how acceptable it is to the retail industry at large.