Many, if not most, of us have grown accustomed to grocery stores that feature a discount card. We understand that when making purchases with that card, the grocery store is tracking our shopping preferences. We even expect those grocery stores to make business decisions based on the information they have collected from us and other patrons that are willing to share that information. For the most part, we have been able to rest assured that once we left the grocery store, we were no longer being tracked. Our shopping habits were safely confined to the chain of stores whose discount card we utilized.
Chris Gilpin of Turnstyle Solutions, Inc. and other entrepreneurs like him have changed the dynamic of shopper preference tracking. It is no longer the case that you can safely leave that grocery store and regain your anonymity. Thanks to the surreptitious gathering of location data based on the eavesdropping of radio signals emitted by modern smartphones, data mining companies are now able to track your movement anywhere they have listening devices. They are collecting this data without your knowledge and without your consent.
These companies are obviously treading on thin ice as far as consumer privacy is concerned. Their entire business seems to be based on an activity that could be made illegal. These companies could gain a bit of legitimacy if their focus become more pro-consumer. Rather than collecting user data in order to sell it to businesses, they could collect user data and use it to provide useful information to consumers. For example, alerting frequent train riders that trains are running early. Or updating diners that one of their favorite restaurants has a new item on the menu.
Although data giants like Google are most certainly using gathered information to empower their business, the data collection seems to be mostly centered around the use of their products and services and consumer knowledge that their data is being collected. Rather than provide a product or service that consumers find useful, data eavesdroppers like Turnstyle are secretly gathering this information and making the most of it while it is still available.