About Mobile Location Analytics Technology

>> How do Mobile Location Analytics (MLA) companies detect my MAC address?
>> Is my email or phone number broadcast as part of this transmission?
>> What do venues do with the information they get from MLA?
>> What happens when I opt-out of mobile location tracking?
>> What if I want give a company permission to collect my information and I’ve previously opted out?
>> What is MLA Code of Conduct, and who are the participating companies?
>> Can my MAC address be linked to my name, address, or any other personal information?
>> Are there other technologies that may be used to track my location in a venue?

>> How do Mobile Location Analytics (MLA) companies detect my MAC address?

Many cell phones have WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities built into them so you can do things like access the Internet or use a hands-free device. Your cell phone broadcasts a WiFi MAC Address or Bluetooth MAC address – a 12-digit string of letters and numbers assigned to your phone by its manufacturer that allows it to be detected by nearby WiFi or Bluetooth sensors. Venues use MLA technology – such as beacons or sensors – to detect when nearby cell phones broadcast their MAC addresses.

>> Is my email or phone number broadcast as part of this transmission?

No. Your device’s MAC address looks like this: 68:A8:6D:E5:65:03. Since different device manufacturers have been assigned groups of MAC addresses to use, your MAC indicates if your device is made by Apple, Samsung or another company. Using the unique MAC address and its proximity to a sensor, MLA technology can chart the path of the device at a venue. Your email, phone number or other personal information are not part of this transmission.

>> What do venues do with the information they get from MLA?

Venues use MLA data to create summary reports that help them better understand their customers’ experience. Some of the reasons venues use MLA technology are:

- To learn how long customers typically wait in line at certain times of day.
- To see which products and locations in a store are most popular.
- To understand which marketing displays are most effective.
- To make sure enough employees are available to help customers.
- To improve emergency evacuation plans.

Here are some examples of MLA reports.

>> What happens when I opt-out of mobile location tracking?

When you opt out of mobile location tracking, companies that have signed on to the MLA Code of Conduct (“participating companies”) will no longer associate information about your presence at a venue with a MAC address. These companies will use your MAC address only to maintain the device’s opt-out status.

Keep in mind that you can also avoid having your MAC address collected by turning your WiFi or Bluetooth signal off before you enter stores that use MLA technology.

>> What if I want give a company permission to collect my information and I’ve previously opted out?

If you give a participating company express permission to collect, use or share your MLA information, this will override your opt out for that company.

>> What is MLA Code of Conduct, and who are the participating companies?

The MLA Code of Conduct is an enforceable, self-regulatory framework for the services provided to venues by MLA Companies. It puts data protection standards in place to ensure that MLA technology is used responsibly. Among other requirements, companies that have signed on to the Code must:

- Provide a detailed privacy notice on their website describing the information they collect.
- Promptly de-identify or de-personalize the MAC addresses they collect.
- Ensure that MLA data is not used for adverse purposes (like employment or healthcare treatment eligibility, for instance).
- Retain MLA data for a limited time only.
- Provide customers with the opportunity to opt out of mobile location tracking.

The companies currently participating are:

Aislelabs
Brickstream
Euclid
eyeQ Insights
iInside, a WirelessWERX Company
Measurence
Mexia Interactive
Presence Orb
Radius Networks
Simply Good Technologies
SOLOMO Technology
Turnstyle Solutions
Path Intelligence

Click to read the full Code of Conduct.

>> Can my MAC address later be linked to my name, address, or any other personal information?

Companies following the Code have committed that they will not link your MAC address to any personal information, such as your name and address, without your affirmative consent.

>> Are there other technologies that may be used to track my location in a venue?

Yes.  This Code and Opt-Out is applicable only to the MAC address technology described above.  Other technologies may also be used to track mobile devices.  For example, your wireless carrier may use other methods of location tracking to generate analytics or marketing reports.  See your carrier’s privacy policy for your options. Apps you download onto your device may also use location services for analytics or for advertising purposes.  You can use the location settings on your device to control location sharing with apps.  Other venues may use video, TIMSI (a cell tower subscriber transmission identifier), LED lighting or magnetic fields. Check www.futureofprivacy.org/issues/smart-stores/ for updates about new location technologies.