updated 07:25 pm EST, Mon November 28, 2011
Management company responds to critics
Forest City Commercial Management has reportedly backed away from plans to continue its controversial cellphone tracking program at several malls throughout the US. The company launched the program ahead of the busy Black Friday shopping day, installing antennas within the properties to monitor customer movements between different stores.
Visitors were notified of the tracking program through signs placed in the malls, though the program was pitched as an "anonymous mobile phone survey" designed to "enhance your shopping experience." There was no opt-in or opt-out option for customers.
The program was met with criticism, as some shoppers were unhappy that the only way to opt out of the survey was to turn off their phones. Senator Charles Schumer called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the legality of the surveys.
"We have temporarily suspended further trial of the technology while we work with the system developer on possible enhancements, and in deference to concerns raised by Senator Schumer," said a Forest City representative, as quoted by CNN.
The survey was initially expected to continue through the end of the year, however it has been temporarily halted while the company communicates with Senator Schumer.