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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.

To limit the risk of hacks, privacy advocates say it is important for consumers to be able to track how their data is shared or sold to other parties. Consumers also should be able to delete their own data.

With the Target app and many others used on smartphones and smartwatches, only California residents have a minimal right to see categories of information being shared by Target. Also, the Target app, as do many others, says it will keep personal data for a "reasonable time," which is undefined. The privacy policies in many apps don't specify how long they will keep data. The Electronic Privacy Information Center says the length of time that data is stored should be defined in a company's privacy policy, with the length of time the data is held kept to a minimum.

A growing number of privacy advocates also say it's time to consider legislation that gives a user the right to demand deletion of all of his or her personal data from a company's data store and that of its third-party partners. Target partly meets one important criteria asserted by privacy advocate Irina Raicu, director of Internet ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Raicu believes that users deserve clear information about how their personal information will be used, and Target does at least provide an outline for how personal data is used.

Even so, analysts said there is widespread apathy about the risks of sharing of personal information. Granting a retailer or app developer the right to know your location and other personal information is "really scary," IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said recently. "It's incredibly problematic."

The apathy comes partly because users don't see a potential risk and want to reap the rewards of obtaining in-store coupons or special offers. "It's about risk versus reward," Gold said. "It's what you get in return for exposing yourself to the data miners."

 

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