I’ve written before about the ways in which some stores are using shoppers’ WiFi enabled smartphones to track their movements through aisles and departments.  Nordstrom was doing so last year but stopped after receiving countless complaints to the signs posted in stores alerting customers about this practice.

But Nordstrom’s response hasn’t stopped other brick-and-mortar stores from starting to track customers’ movements in their stores.  So what can consumers do?  Well, the obvious is turning off the WiFi on their smartphones.  But it’s easy for consumers to forget to do so and some consumers don’t want to disconnect WiFi.

Moreover, many customers aren’t even aware that their smartphones are being used as tracking devices.  One Maryland legislator is trying to address this issue.  Amrita Jayakumar recently reported that Delegate Sam Arora has introduced a bill that, if enacted, would require stores to post very visible and prominent signs alerting customers that their physical movements are being tracked (“Privacy advocates push back on stores’ tracking”; The Washington Post; A12; March 8th).  Delegate Arora’s proposed bill is just beginning its legislative journey so may or may not become law anytime soon.

There’s another option for consumers who don’t want to be tracked via their smartphones.  That option is provided by the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF).  FPF  has created a registry allowing consumers to opt out from having their smartphones monitored.  The FPF registry is a Do Not Track-type registry.  FPF’s website homepage has detailed information about the registry, the stores involved and the steps for signing up.  All of this information is posted under the title of “Mobile Location Analytics” (www.futureof privacy.org).