London's People-Stalking Bins Told to Cease and Desist

By Sam Gibbs on at

After hitting the headlines last week, it seems London's new people-tracking bins aren't going to be tracking anyone for a while. The City of London has told Renew, which operates the recycling bins that track people via their phones as they walk by, to stop spying on people.

The bins, which monitor the passing of the MAC addresses of phones to keep tabs on where people go and which shops they linger around on the high street, are being billed as the "cookie" for the real world. The City of London didn't like that idea, and told the BBC:

"Irrespective of what's technically possible, anything that happens like this on the streets needs to be done carefully, with the backing of an informed public."

I can't say that sounds unreasonable to me. Do I care that bins are tracking my wanderings around town? Probably not. But we're in a surveillance society, so I kind of assume I'm being watched everywhere I go. Perhaps that's a little different from companies being able to track you. Either way, the people-spying bins are on their way to the Information Commissioner's Office now, so there's one less thing to worry about in central London. [BBC]