We must assume that They are using the full spectrum of surveillance information to try to PREDICT HOW EACH OF US IS LIKELY TO BEHAVE ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS. Where we go. Which routes we take. What we buy. Etc.
Location tracking has become a hot privacy issue. Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all stepped into massive PR messes over the question. Now there’s a new entry: Amazon.
A patent, made public last week, covers a system to not only track, through mobile devices (Kindle, anyone?), where individuals or aggregated users have been, but determine where they’re likely to go next to better target ads, coupons, or other messages that could appear on a mobile phone or on displays that individuals are likely to see on their routes. The system could also use someone’s identity to further tailor the marketing according to demographic information.
According to the patent’s description, location could be specific spots inside a mall:
In some embodiments, mobile device users’ current and past travel patterns may be analyzed to determine a predicted next destination. For instance, by analyzing the recent movements of a mobile device user among stores in a shopping mall, it may be determined that a particular store is a predicted next destination for the mobile device user. Thus, advertising content for the predicted destination, such as coupons, may be sent to the mobile device user.
This is a bare-knuckled approach to tracking and analysis that other companies have yet to publicly admit (though it doesn’t mean they aren’t working on similar concepts). Consider what “analyzing” would mean. It’s unlikely to only be examining a pattern of movement, though that would obviously be part of it. Such a system goes beyond malls:
For example, a mobile device user may be tracked while attending a large entertainment venue or sporting event and coupons advertising a discount at a restaurant that the mobile device user is likely to visit based on the user’s traffic or travel patterns at the entertainment venue or sporting event. Similarly, mobile device users attending a large venue may be tracked and provided coupons for vendors the mobile device users are likely to pass based on their recent travel patterns in and around the venue.
Location ties to function. If you know what sort of establishment is at a spot, you can start to make more intelligent guesses of what a person is doing. The more stops, the more chances of putting together a picture of what a person is doing. And if you store this data over time, you might build a more complete picture.
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