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Customer Beware: You Are Being Tracked

From CCTV cameras to RFID wristbands, retailers are monitoring everything you do.

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Plan to visit Disney World? You’ll be tracked. Pay with a credit card at your local grocery store, you’ll be tracked. Your car insurance company can track the speed you drive, linking your fees to a good driving record. 

Private-sector tracking that takes place in retail outlets, even the apparently innocuous mannequin cameras, is part of a much larger monitoring, information gathering and commodification effort now underway. In addition to retailers and entertainment resorts, the great digital data sucking now underway also includes companies that enable digital communications, like AT&T and Verizon; that facilitate commercial transactions, like Visa and PayPal; and that collect or aggregate personal data, repackage it and offer it for sale, like Acxiom and LexisNexis. 

Together, these types of companies turn a person’s private digital life, as well as the person, into a commodity.  Where is the FTC when we really need it?


David Rosen is regular contributor to AlterNet, Brooklyn Rail, Filmmaker and IndieWire. His website is He can be reached at


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