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Target joins the beacon bandwagon with trial in 50 stores

Matt Hamblen | Aug. 10, 2015
Target, the nation's second-largest discount chain, is testing beacon technology in 50 of its stores.

Target app's privacy policy in brief

Use of the app, including opt-in tracking of a user's location inside its stores and elsewhere, implies consent to allow Target to use personal information that it says "may" be shared with third parties, such as companies outside of Target, for their marketing purposes directed at the app user.

The personal information collected through use of the Target app, according to the privacy policy, includes: the user's name, mailing address, email address, phone number, credit/debit number, precise geo-location (with the user's consent), the mobile application password, mobile device information (model, OS version, unique device identifiers and mobile network information). Target also will collect how users use the mobile app.

"If you choose not to provide personal information, we may not be able to provide you with requested products, services or information," the Target app privacy policy notes.

When a user turns on location sharing in the app, Target will use GPS and Wi-Fi outside its stores and beacons and Bluetooth, LED light chip and other technologies inside its store that "permit Target to do things like find nearby products for you, get you real-time deals and auto-sort your shopping list."

The policy also describes various opt-out capabilities in the app, including to opt-out of geo-location and in-store location. There's also the ability to uninstall the entire app, but Target notes that if a user uninstalls the app, the Target unique identifier associated with the user's device will still be stored. If the user re-installs the app on the same device, Target will be able to re-associate the identifier with previous transactions.

In a recent update to the app, Target includes in the privacy policy information a protection for California residents who have the right to see the categories of personal information that Target has shared with third parties for their marketing purposes.

Target also says it will retain a customer's information as long as the application is in use "and for a reasonable time thereafter."

Target's privacy policy also says, like many other retail app privacy policies, that it will use industry standard methods to protect private information. It adds: "However, no e-commerce solution, website, database of system is completely secure or 'hacker proof.' You are responsible for taking reasonable steps to protect your personal information against unauthorized disclosure or mis-use."

Reality check: Are beacons vulnerable to attack?

It is highly unlikely beacons will be hacked directly, any more than individual smartphones or smartwatches, analysts say. The main concern about data gathered by retailers through beacons or directly from smartphone apps is that the data will be stored by various parties on servers that are then vulnerable to attack.

 

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