Just when you thought the ultimate threat to your privacy rights had been discovered — the US governments PRISM program — a new threat emerges from…trash cans.
No, that’s not a joke. At least not here in London, where hi-tech trash cans (known as “rubbish bins”) display ads to pedestrians via LED screens. The bins use Wi-Fi connectivity to pull ads from the advertising agency’s content management system. However, it’s been discovered that the agency behind the trash cans, Renew, has also been using that Wi-Fi to grab MAC information from people’s iPhones and other smart phones. As The Guardian reports:
The Renew ad firm has been using technology embedded in the receptacles to measure the Wi-Fi signals from smartphones, and suggested that it would apply the concept of “cookies” – tracking files that follow internet users across the web – to the physical world.
“We will cookie the street,” its chief executive, Kaveh Memari, said in June.
The City of London has now demanded that Renew cease tracking users’ smart phone data when they passed by the trash cans. Renew has not publicly commented on the request yet.