But it is not certain how soon that will come into being. While the Post reported on Oct. 22 that the site was, "set to launch within the next few weeks," there is little evidence of that. The Wireless Registry website was, as of this week, nothing more than a page with the name of the company on it. Bradish and co-founder Patrick Parodi could not be reached for comment. A public relations spokeswoman said both were attending a conference.
The FPF also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is dubious about the value of such a registry anyway. He notes that joining the project would be voluntary -- there will be no law requiring that companies refrain from tracking users who sign up. "The danger is that it leads to more tracking rather than keeping you from being tracked," he said.
Another effort is an agreement announced last month between FPF and seven major location analytics companies -- Euclid, iInside, Mexia Interactive, SOLOMO, Radius Networks, Brickstream, and Turnstyle Solutions -- to a Code of Conduct that will include "in-store posted signs that alert shoppers that tracking technology is being used, and instructions for how to opt out."
The standards also limit the use and sharing of the data and how long it is kept. It requires the companies to de-identify the data and says it, "cannot be collected or used in an adverse manner for employment, health care or insurance purposes."
However, noticeably absent from that list of prohibited uses is law enforcement. So the agreement is small comfort to advocates like Higgins. "When a company starts collecting this data, it becomes a very attractive target for law enforcement," he said.
Herold adds that, "historically, new technologies such as this were viewed as privacy-benign -- until something bad happened." She said this is the kind of information that would be very attractive to law enforcement, divorce lawyers and criminals.
"Using the data to improve the retailer environment can be very beneficial. But you cannot ignore all the other possibilities for how that data may be used," she said.
Herold called the Code of Conduct "a good start," but said it is only a start. "We all need to be more aware of ways in which we are giving out our personal data, and limit that significantly," she said, "but we also need to establish information security and privacy standards by which Big Data can be used. There's scarcely anything being done like this now that I'm aware of."