Anonymously tracking phones through airport security cuts waiting time by a third

Filed under creepy, but probably useful, 9to5 Mac reports that Blip Systems has designed a phone tracking system that supposedly cuts airport security waiting time by a third:

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport says that anonymously tracking smartphones through airport security has enabled it to cut the average waiting time by a third.

The system, developed by Danish company Blip Systems, scans both WiFi and Bluetooth connections to look for MAC addresses of mobile devices passing through security. Counting the number of devices in each queue enables the system to estimate the length of the queue. The queue length is displayed to passengers in minutes, so they can choose which queue to join, and also used to help the airport allocate the right number of security personnel.

Blip says that it anonymizes this data, and only uses device counts.

As 9to5 Mac notes, iOS 8 has automatic MAC address spoofing when scanning for networks (i.e. your iPhone hides its identity when joining public networks). One can hope that this, in addition to Blip saying it collects its data anonymously, will protect privacy a bit. I see how useful this is, but this still makes me a bit queasy.

It’s the ultimate question: how much privacy are we willing to give up for conveniences?

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