New York City has told outdoor media company Titan to remove 500 transmitter beacons in phone kiosks around Manhattan amid concerns that they could be used to track the movements of smartphone owners.
Titan began placing the beacons in its 5,000 kiosks as part of a pilot to bring free Wi-Fi to the city. The beacons transmit Bluetooth signals which smartphones receive, allowing companies to push ads out to them.
In this case, the beacons are “incapable of receiving or collecting any personally identifiable information,” ABC News quotes a spokesman from Mayor Bill de Blasio's office as saying. But civil liberties groups decried the program, citing privacy concerns and a lack of transparency.
And within hours of Buzzfeed and the Daily News jointly publishing a story on the initiative, New York officials had told Titan to scrap the project.