Attention shoppers: Retailers can now track you across the mall

by Dan Tynan, IT World

There’s a common argument against online tracking that goes something like this: When you shop at your local mall, nobody is following you around recording the name of every store you enter and what you did there. When you shop on the Web, there are dozens of trackers recording your activities on every site you visit. So why can’t shopping online be more like shopping at the mall?

Well, it soon may be, but not in a way most privacy advocates would endorse. Retail stores will soon be able to follow you around the store ‘  or even outside the store if you just walk by without entering ‘ using the WiFi antenna built into your smartphone.

How would they do it? Pretty simple really. When you come within range of a properly configured WiFi access point, it can record the wireless MAC address of your phone ‘ a unique 12-digit number. Every time you pass by, that AP can log that number. If you enter that store or caf