Thursday, 23 January 2014 - 13:22
Stores promise Wi-Fi tracking transparency
Store chains Dixons, MyCom and iCentre has said it will inform its customers about its use of Wi-Fi-tracking to follow their behavior. "We will start informing our clients actively,” Marco van Hurne of Bas Group, the holding that owns the three companies told Tweakers.net. The electronics- and technology website that covers the Netherlands and Belgium had earlier today revealed that the Bas Group was using in-store equipment to keep tabs on customers’ mobile devices as they move through its stores. Van Hurne said that Bas Group would start informing customers actively that they are being tracked through their mobile devices. Signs will be posted in all 170 Dixons, MyCom and iCentre stores throughout the country. The holding had previously insisted that it did not see the need to inform customers that their behavior was being tracked through Wi-Fi, because that was not necessary. The company said it was only tracking its customers to learn more about their behavior. “The reason we’re doing this is simple: because it’s possible. We hardly know anything about our customers,” Van Hurne said. Wi-Fi tracking helps the company to keep tabs on how many customers visit its stores, how often they return and how many are walk-ins. Tweakers quoted an anonymous source from within Bas Group who said the company was not happy that its tracking activities had been leaked and that the company would try to find out how it happened. The story had caused commotion all the way in the Second Chamber, where the Wi-Fi tracking was likened to spy activities. Parliamentarian Bart de Liefde (VVD) said it shocked him and his colleague Astrid Ossenburg (PvdA) called it “ridiculous. Yet another way to track what people do. I do not want to be spied upon.” The chamber members have announced intentions to fire questions at the Authority for the Protection of Personal Information CBP about the matter. CBP has already said people should know when their information is being gathered. “When a company uses Wi-Fi tracking, it should inform its customers and allow them to opt out,” CBP chairman Jacob Kohnstamm said. Bas Group Marketing Manager Van Hurne said he was happy the discussion has taken off, because the company wants to be transparent. He was not sure whether the Bag Group would allow customers to opt out. “We could want to, but the question is still whether technology allows it,” Van Hurne said.