Almost everyone carries a cell phone nowadays. Cell phones are a great way to stay in touch with your loved ones and friends. They also come in handy when you have an emergency or break down on the side of the road. But did you know that marketers can trace you using your cell phone?
Your cell phone is an extension of yourself. Not only do you keep all of your families and friends phone numbers in them, but a lot of people also program in their favorite restaurant’s number or store. Marketers are able to track you by your phone calls. They know where you are going, what restaurants you seem to like, what stores you like to browse through and any other personal details that might help them offer you some type of marketing ploy.
How many times have you gotten a text message on your cell phone asking if you wanted a deal where you could save money with a different insurance company or offering you coupons for your favorite restaurant? Have you ever wondered how they knew this information or how they got your cell phone number? This tracking of your cell phone is how they do it.
When you sign up for a cell phone, you are required to sign a contract. That contract has lots of personal details about yourself on it, such as your phone number, address and credit histories. Marketers can also track your location through a service that uses global positioning systems that help you keep in touch with family and friends.
Advertisers can even go a few steps further. If you have a cell phone that allows you access to the internet, companies can track what web pages you go to in order to find out what you like. For example, if you sign on to the internet with your cell phone to check out the latest movies, they will know about it. If you get onto any social networking site, such as Facebook or Myspace, they can also learn more about you by using a behaviour type profiling system.
On January 13th of this year, the Center For Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They want to make sure that when a person signs up for a cell phone and signs the contract that they are made aware that marketers can collect data about them.
While the wireless cell phone companies have answered the complaint by stating that they have an “opt in” clause, wherein the customer has to voluntarily agree to allow the data to be compiles. However, this clause is buried deep in the contract. Most people don’t take the time to read the fine print, thus they don’t realize they are signing something that allows advertisers and marketers to have their personal data.
The consumers are trying to make it a must that wireless companies make it apparent to their customers that they are signing a consent to allow this data collecting to happen. They want cell phone companies to put it into their advertising that this will happen. They also want a complaint system implemented where customers can call to report any violations of their privacy.
AdMob, a mobile ad network, has been targeted by the consumers. They point out that AdMob targets teenagers in particular, not letting them know they are being tracked or giving them an option out. AdMob creates profiles of people for over 6,000 companies. They create these profiles by collecting demographic and registration data. And while AdMob admits that they do collect this data, they contend that they are staying within federal guidelines and are only collecting the data and creating the profiles so that they can offer different advertisements to the cell phone customers.
Knowing this, if you find that you don’t like the idea of being tracked by advertising companies you might want to check your contract and see if there is an “opt out” clause. If you are thinking about purchasing a cell phone, make sure to read the contract thoroughly before signing it so that you can catch this option if it is the contract.
For more information about the 52 page complaint you can go to Businessweek to read more.