Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Cécile Duflot ruffles some feathers

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Media accused of pro-protester bias in Ferguson

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

The Murderous Lure of Jihad: Tackling ISIS and its Worldwide Recruitment

Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • Russian aid convoy reaches Ukraine’s rebel-held Luhansk

    Read more

  • Gunmen kill scores in Iraqi Sunni mosque attack

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu set to be Erdogan's new PM

    Read more

  • Hollande is ‘nobody’s president’ says former French minister

    Read more

  • Two US Ebola patients leave hospital ‘virus-free’

    Read more

  • US reaches historic $16.7bn settlement with Bank of America

    Read more

  • France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Europe

Mobile-tracking bins slammed by UK officials

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-08-14

UK officials have called on an advertising company to stop tracking Londoners using a Wi-Fi network embedded in high-tech dustbins. The technology has drawn unflattering comparisons to that used in the Tom Cruise thriller “Minority Report”.

Officials demanded Monday that an advertising firm stop using a network of high-tech trash cans to track people walking through London’s financial district.

The Renew ad firm has been using technology embedded in the hulking receptacles to measure the Wi-Fi signals emitted by 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,” Renew Chief Executive Kaveh Memari said in June.

But the City of London Corporation insisted that Renew pull the plug on the program, which captures smartphones’ serial numbers and analyzes signal strength to follow people up and down the street. Renew didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on whether it would comply with the authorities’ demand.

The trash cans join a host of everyday objects from televisions to toilets that are being manufactured with the ability to send and receive data, opening up new potential for interaction - and surveillance.

It’s unclear how Renew had planned to use the data, which were gathered by its reinforced, shoulder-height pods stationed near St. Paul’s Cathedral and Liverpool Street Station.

But if a company could see that a certain smartphone user spent 20 minutes in a McDonald’s every day, it could approach Burger King about airing an ad on the bin’s video display whenever that user walks by at lunchtime. Or it could target its commercials in real time by distinguishing between people who work in the area and visiting tourists.

The prospect drew comparisons to the creepy “Good evening, John Anderton” ads from the Tom Cruise thriller “Minority Report.”

Renew first tested the technology using 12 trash cans in May, but the story didn’t get traction until an article on news website Quartz led to a burst of media coverage.

“Anything that happens like this on the streets needs to be done carefully, with the backing of an informed public,” read a statement from the City of London Corporation, which is responsible for the city’s historic “square mile,” home to financial institutions, law firms and tourist landmarks.

A spokesman for the body said it had been blindsided by the tests, which he said it learned about through the press only last week.

Britain’s data protection watchdog said it would investigate, while Nick Pickles of the privacy advocacy group Big Brother Watch said questions need to be asked “about how such a blatant attack on people’s privacy was able to occur.”

In a recent statement, Memari said media coverage of the “spy bins” had been a bit breathless.

“A lot of what had been extrapolated is capabilities that could be developed and none of which are workable right now,” he said.

(AP)

Date created : 2013-08-13

  • TECHNOLOGY

    Snooping software on smartphones exposed

    Read more

  • EUROPE

    EU pledges to tackle 773% disparity in mobile call costs

    Read more

  • TECHNOLOGY

    Photovoltaic film recharges mobile phones with light

    Read more

COMMENT(S)