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London says thumbs down on 'smart' recycling bins gathering phone data

Aug. 12, 2013 at 5:17 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Authorities in London have told a company making "smart" recycling bins it will no longer be allowed to collect data from smartphone users as they pass by.

The firm, Renew, has been ordered to stop collecting data identifying a passer-by by their smartphone manufacturer and measuring their speed and proximity to the trashcan, ITProPortal reported Monday.

It was revealed last week Renew was testing out tracking technology in some public recycling bins in London's financial district, gathering data advertisers could use to create targeted ads displayed on display screens on the bins.

"We have already asked the firm concerned to stop this data collection immediately and we have also taken the issue to the Information Commissioner's Office," the City of London Corporation said in a statement. "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."

Renew has said the devices "measure variables in market share between mobile handheld providers within the city's Square Mile -- the highest concentration of professionals in Europe."

The Information Commissioner's Office responded with a statement, saying, "Any technology that involves the processing of personal information must comply with the Data Protection Act. We are aware of the concerns being raised over the use of these bins and will be making inquiries to establish what action, if any, is required."

Renew has confirmed all tests have been stopped.

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