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Amazon Granted Location Tracking Patent 68

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the think-of-the-incredible-deals dept.
bizwriter writes "A new patent for Amazon just put the company squarely in the location tracking controversy. It covers a system to not only track, through mobile devices, where individuals or aggregated users have been, but to determine where they're likely to go next to better target ads, coupons, or other messages that could appear on a mobile phone or on displays that individuals are likely to see in their travels. The system could also use someone's identity to further tailor the marketing according to demographic information."
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Amazon Granted Location Tracking Patent

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  • by Zandamesh (1689334) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:37AM (#38369596)

    Just don't buy from amazon and you won't be tracked!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:38AM (#38369600)

    As this has been done before - see "scavenger hunts": http://www.cellphonesinlearning.com/2010/01/scvngr-cell-phone-scavenger-hunt.html

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's one thing when people read the out-of-context summary of a patent and then start bitching about that without reading the actual claims. However, you are even worse, in that the SUMMARY explained that the patent involved predicting where a person will go next. Are you telling me that these scavenger hunts involved predicting where the participants were going to go next? I fail to see that mentioned in your link, nor can I imagine how it would come into play.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:40AM (#38369628) Homepage Journal

    Then they got nothin'

    The way the budget is shaping up this Christmas, that's all they gonna get.

    Of course, statistics gathered from Geocaching might prove prior art, no?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Then they got nothin'

      For you, they just need to patent the method of recording where your order all your delivery food so they can then target you with coupons for local competitors.

      Assuming you don't already have a huge stock of pizza and Chinese coupons stuck to the fridge. ;)

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Then they got nothin'

        For you, they just need to patent the method of recording where your order all your delivery food so they can then target you with coupons for local competitors.

        Assuming you don't already have a huge stock of pizza and Chinese coupons stuck to the fridge. ;)

        Buy my pizzas at Trader Joe's and I do my own Chinese/Thai cooking from scratch (and had a panic run on the market when I heard about the flooding in Thailand, where some of the spices I use come from!)

        As for tracking, I have a Lackey travelbug, which will likely crash your browser, if you view where it has been on Google Maps.

  • They have to make money off me visiting their site somehow. I only use them for gaging prices before buying something from somebody else.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jo_ham (604554)

      I take it the dictionary was too expensive?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sgt scrub (869860)

        Another shit all stupid fucktard spewing forth shit from ignorance instead of commenting on the topic. When your ignorant of both it is best to shut the fuck up.

        Gage Gage (g[=a]j), n. [F. gage, LL. gadium, wadium; of German
        origin; cf. Goth. wadi, OHG. wetti, weti, akin to E. wed. See
        Wed, and cf. Wage, n.]

        The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 (gcide)
        Gage Gage, v. t.
        To measure.
        [1913 Webster]

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by jo_ham (604554)

          *you're

        • Muphry's law strikes again! (I'm not sure if this actually counts, but I'm calling it close enough.)

        • Another shit all stupid fucktard spewing forth shit from ignorance instead of commenting on the topic. When your ignorant of both it is best to shut the fuck up.

          Having a bad day? Oh and it's "you're" not "your"... gotta watch that when you're [see?] ranting about dictionary definitions, the ignorance of others, calling people names and telling them to shut the fuck up.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...blocking your carefully targeted ads.

  • Already doing it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alphred (1920232) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @09:57AM (#38369808)
    The last update of the Amazon Android app had a new security requirement that it be able to read your GPS and gather fine location data. That was the end of that app on my device. I don't mind that they track what I look at on their web site or thru their app, but to track where I am to be able to sell that information to others just pisses me off.

    On the other hand, perhaps I should load the app, but only turn it on when I'm in Barnes and Noble looking at Nooks.
    • Re:Already doing it? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Wahakalaka (1323747) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:56AM (#38370540)
      What pisses me off is that these companies think they have some kind of entitlement to profit off of me and my data. If anyone should be able to monetize and sell my own information, it's me. If they offered to pay me for it, then and only then will I consent to anything.
      • Re:Already doing it? (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @11:17AM (#38370862)

        What pisses me off is that these companies think they have some kind of entitlement to profit off of me and my data. If anyone should be able to monetize and sell my own information, it's me. If they offered to pay me for it, then and only then will I consent to anything.

        Well, if it's Amazon, they did "pay you" for your information. And you did consent to it.

        You chose to shop there for some reason - be it the cheaper prices (the "payment" is the discount), or the convenience of just having it right there rather than drive all over the city. That can effectively be seen as you voluntarily giving up your data for the priviledge of purchasing product from their store.

        You're free to shop elsewhere. Your local whitebox computer store can sell you parts for cash only transactions - no need to give newegg your information. Barnes and Noble run a set of brick and mortar stores that accept anonymous cash, as do many independent bookstores (who can also order in any book you're looking for).

        Sure you'll probably pay more in the end, but you can consider that the price of your data.

      • Information wants to be free... except my information!
        File sharing with the consent of copyright holder isn't really stealing, but a benefit to them... but getting my information after I agree to the terms of service is stealing and provides no benefit that I like!

        What walking contradictions we've become. The fact is we want machines that learn our preferences, language, desires and attitudes, and are excited by things like Siri and recommendation engines. But when push comes to shove on anyone actually u

        • File sharing with the consent of copyright holder isn't really stealing, but a benefit to them... but getting my information after I agree to the terms of service is stealing and provides no benefit that I like!

          What makes you think he thinks it's stealing? What makes you think he thinks that copyright infringement isn't stealing?

          means the person didn't read their terms of service.

          I doubt anyone has the time to read ridiculously long walls of text filled with legalese every single time they want to buy a product (which might not even allow them to read it until after they've bought it) or use a service.

          I'm not saying it should be field day, but it's /. hypocrisy to decry the RIAA/MPAA for defending what they clearly own

          Not everyone on Slashdot believes the same things. I don't think copyright infringement is stealing, and I don't think that getting someone's information is stealing,

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you have an android device, root it and install LBE Security. It will let you deny applications access to location information.

  • ... but for when you're going to buy your next coffee. Or maybe it's more like Machine Of Death...
  • Good news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:07AM (#38369920) Homepage

    If Amazon have a patent on it then no one else will be able to do it (ahem) and so our privacy will be better preserved

    I wish ...

  • by Zaldarr (2469168) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:10AM (#38369944) Homepage
    I'm an undergrad student getting a degree in Business, and I'm probably pointing out the obvious when I say that this will not stop because there is far too much money to be made out of it. The thing is about the micromarkets (i.e. selling directly to a consumer) is that it takes out all the guesswork involved in trying to appeal to a mass or niche market. No (expensive) market research needs to be done - other than having an algorithm sort through a bunch of information about yourself (provided most likely by Google or Facebook, whatever's your poison) and matching it with related products, and BAM. You're being advertised to right there, at (or near) the store, advertising to you about something that is probably relevant to you. The power of this is not to be underestimated, old media methods were like carpetbombing, just get the message out to everyone, and hope it hits; new media is now a surgical strike at your wallet via the phone in your pocket. Unless there is political control, public outrage or (heaven forbid) good corporate ethics, this is here to stay.
    • by Cragen (697038)
      Amazing that '1984' would turn out to be due to marketing pressure, not the "evil Big Brother government" as was always assumed.
      • Can't it be both?
      • by Forbman (794277)

        ...but will it come to be like how it was presented in "Minority Report", if you were looking carefully enough? Imagine advertisers also getting some lulz from law enforcement by aiding and abetting their tracking efforts as well...

        Imagine, though, the episode on "COPS: 2012" where some criminal mastermind gets a text from "Macy's" that there is a flash sale on Brut 33 products (put there by the cops who are interested in him for...oh...driving through a school zone at 3am at 40 mph...), but only if he can

    • new media is now a surgical strike at your wallet via the phone in your pocket.

      Except if you don't have a smart phone, you can't be tracked or have ads shoved in your face. If you don't have Kindle/Nook/iPad/whatever, you also can't be tracked. Thus, you are one of many unknown, untargetable people, not consumers, who refuse to be told what they "need" to have.

      On a related note, those QRC codes you see plastered everywhere? The ones which were supposed to revolutionize the way businesses communi
      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:54AM (#38370508) Journal

        Last time I tried to use the QR coded display at the store, it presented me with exactly the same information as the display, from the store's own website. That just Spells "I don't get it" IMHO. You're not helping anyone with that crap.

        If I was a store manager, and someone clicked the QR code on the display, I'd offer them something, a discount, a addon, some promotional value if they presented that information at the time of purchase, within the next 30 minutes. Something along the line of "if you buy this product, you'll get $5 off" (or whatever).

        In other words, give us a reason for using them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately, there won't be public outrage for quite some time. The majority of consumers don't even know they're being tracked let alone understand the fine print. We geeks like to talk about how unjust it is for social media, retailers, and cell phone carriers to track our activity in order to increase their bottom line. However, someone like my mother simply does not have time nor the know-how to even begin investigating how deep the rabbit hole goes. My mom shops a ton on Amazon and probably won't sto

    • by Inda (580031)
      Calm down sir, there's no need to panic.

      People will continue to ignore adverts. When I walking to the pub to buy a pint of beer, I'm not going to decide to buy a cider instead because my phone told me to. Flashing it up on the door as I walk in will turn me off rather than tune me in.

      And the way things are going, fewer people will be spending money in the future too. It's all wasted effort.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's early Sunday morning, very few cars in sight, you're driving along with your girlfriend and realize you forgot your cellphone at home. "Don't worry she says, I brought mine, we don't have to go back. So we keep driving and as we pass each electronic billboard on the highway I see various ads. Now I'm really nervous. She's looks coyly away.

    Sex hormone therapy on sale now! Be a man in a man's world!
    10-pack of stap-ons on sale now! Turn right at the next exit.
    Win a trip to the transvestite convention

  • I think it is truly a novel idea - you went to two department stores, and now it's around 11:30 AM. You're probably going to eat lunch out. Time to advertise food places. Location over time is not the same as location-based. And as long as business process patents are allowed, this seems to qualify.

    • by alphred (1920232)
      Our data shows that Joe just stopped at his dealer's house. Before that he bought some boots at the Army Surplus store, a six pack of Red Bull and a 5 gallon gas can at the mini-mart. He also stopped at the gun shop, but we don't know what he bought. He appears to be headed to Central High School. Hmmm, what can we sell him there?
    • Didn't they do that in "Minority Report?"

  • if they start a patent war over tracking us, then maybe there will be fewer people doing it.

  • Track me and I'll be in the crowd outside Amazon HQ with the pitchforks and torches.

    At least Bezos will see it coming.

  • I'm developing a deep hatred of ads. I'm turning into an old intolerant grandpa.
  • They already know where you're going since you asked for directions to it! Therefore they can show ads for where you're going to be without infringing Amazon's patent.

  • who would want to be tracked for the purpose of giving you ads? i dont want ads popping up on my phone. i want my phone to be a PHONE.
  • by kawabago (551139) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:13PM (#38372702)
    Patents are supposed to teach us something we didn't know but this patent is just shuffling data around. Once phones are location aware, it isn't an invention to look up what businesses are at that location and then what related businesses are in the direction of travel. This is an obvious application of the location aware phone invention.
  • Unless - as in this case - you are a brick and mortar store targeted for Amazonian destruction. In this (refreshing?) case, the user scanning in price comparisons is merely a vector, akin to rats carrying bubonic plague.

    Merry Christmas!
  • I'm going to point out the pink elephant in the corner - software patents. I'm ignoring the distinction between various patents used to protect software, as this argument holds to all patents that are applied to software. Patents were meant to protect an invention. What is invented? A machine (machine, in the broadest sense) that produces a new composition of matter and/or the new composition itself. Both of which have value of greater or longitudinal quality when compared with similar compositions and are

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