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How retailers will be watching you in 2014

Cabela's, Benetton, and Mothercare are among national retailers that have tested the idea of tracking people with cellphone signals and video cameras as they shop stores, according to the New York Times.

This week we're talking to guests about big tech trends in the coming year. With a growing number of organizations tracking people as they do their shopping, the question comes up of whether consumers have reached a tipping point when it comes to feelings about data privacy. 

Chester Wisniewski at the cyber security firm Sophos says we may see companies using sensors to track smartphones in the new year.

"We've seen a real move toward retailers and other etablishments starting to take advantage of these personal beacons that we all carry in our pockets," says Wisniewski, "and kind of using that data to get metrics on how people shop."

But people aren't as trusting that the companies gathering the data will be able to protect their privacy.

"One of the things that we may see really change about people's attitudes toward technology in 2014 is maybe a little bit more suspicion and lack of trust," says Wisniewski, "it has gotten to the point that people are a little bit more suspicious about this data collection that's going on, not just with the NSA, but with every establishment, and whether those establishments truly can keep that data safe and secure."

You may be able to avoid the new smartphone tracking sensors by simply switching off your phone, but that wont prevent stores from watching you alltogether; the cameras are still watching.

"You'd probably be astounded by the number of cameras in every single establishment you go into," Wisniewski says.

And if you're waiting for someone to release a product or app that keeps your data private, don't hold your breath. Wisniewski says short of secluding yourself in a cabin in the mountains, your information is going to get out there.

"Somehow as a society we're going to have to come to terms with this change if we're going to continure to use this technology," he says.

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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