Big data could save physical <b>retail</b>. But privacy concerns are bubbling. | RetailTechPodcast

Big data could save physical retail. But privacy concerns are bubbling.

Concerns about consumer privacy are not just flourishing online but in brick and mortar stores as well. Retailers are already using Bluetooth technology to detect customers' smartphones when they walk into stores and hit them with promotions while they shop, and companies are also marketing facial-recognition technology to them, describing it as a way to flag shoplifters, according to the Wall Street Journal. Stores say the new practices are meant to improve the overall shopping experience and help them stay competitive in the world of online shopping, but privacy advocates say they are bringing concerns about online surveillance into the physical world. The debate over data privacy in Congress has mostly focused on e-commerce and social media companies, but legislators say they will include physical stores in their bills as well. At the $25 billion Hudson Yards, developer Related Companies says it will hold user data indefinitely. Facial recognition technology has proven to be particularly sensitive for retailers, with 18 of 20 companies declining to answer an ACLU survey from last year about whether they use it. One bill from Senators Roy Blunt and Brian Schatz would ban companies that use facial recognition from tracking consumers without their consent. Read more