This article was originally published at Mass Private I
What have corporations learned from the post 9/11 era? Apparently a lot.
Since 9/11, airports in the U.S. and across the globe have been redesigned to make people feel safer and make it easier for authorities to ID and track airline passengers.
A Fast Company story reveals how Walmart is taking a cue from airport terminals by bringing the airport experience to every store.
“Airports were a place that inspired us because, by nature, you don’t spend an awful amount of time in airports, so you don’t know your way around. But you need to get a lot of people somewhere in a timely fashion,” Janey Whiteside, EVP and chief customer officer at Walmart said.
The article mentions how Walmart’s newly designed stores will inspire customers to use their cellphones to shop.
People walk around the store with a phone in their hand looking down and looking up, and we wanted to integrate those things, so when they look at their phone they can look up at [the same thing] in the store.
The video at the top of this story shows just how far corporations are willing to go to justify using the pandemic to ID and track customers. The video begins by stating…”Please protect yourself and others” by using our “Walmart Pay” or “Scan & Go” apps.
Claiming that a Walmart app can magically protect customers from getting COVID is disingenuous and obscures the real reason why corporations want customers to use them.
A CNN article does a great job of explaining why Walmart is redesigning their stores.
In a push to get more people to download its app and use it while shopping , Walmart is encouraging shoppers to download it prior to entering to assist in navigating the store, search for more options online and pay once finished.
Besides using “Walmart Pay” to direct customers to the exact location of items inside the store, it has the added benefit of tracking customers’ cell phones.
You authorize your wireless operator (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, or any other branded wireless operator) to disclose to Walmart and its third-party service providers your mobile number, name, address, email, network status, customer type, customer role, billing type, mobile device identifiers (IMSI and IMEI) and other subscriber status and device details, if available, solely to verify your identity and prevent fraud for the duration of the business relationship.
Once a customer gives a company like Walmart access to their phone’s mobile device identifiers or connects through Walmart’s Bluetooth beacon, it becomes fairly easy to identify each and every customer.
By combining CCTV surveillance footage and point-of-sale surveillance footage along with a detailed description of what each customer purchased, it would be easy for Walmart to build a real-time database of every customer.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES AND UNDER NO LEGAL OR EQUITABLE THEORY, WHETHER IN TORT, CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, SHALL WALMART OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES, EMPLOYEES, DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, AGENTS, VENDORS OR SUPPLIERS BE LIABLE TO YOU OR TO ANY OTHER PERSON FOR ANY INDIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL LOSSES OR DAMAGES OF ANY NATURE ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF OR INABILITY TO USE THE WALMART APPLICATIONS.
Walmart goes on to say they are not liable for any computer malfunctions that might affect their apps and their customers.
EVEN IF AN AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE OF WALMART HAS BEEN ADVISED OF OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
If Walmart knew their apps were comprised, surely they would agree to have their customers’ backs and reimburse them if their accounts were breached, right?
Sadly, the answer is no. In fact, it appears that Walmart is going out of its way to indemnify themselves.
The failure of Walmart to act with respect to a breach of this Agreement by you or others does not constitute a waiver and shall not limit Walmart’s rights with respect to such breach or any subsequent breaches.
So what are Walmart’s apps good for?
It appears that their apps are good for one thing: ID-ing and tracking you as you move about the store and make your purchases.
Using smartphone apps to pay for merchandise does nothing to “protect yourself and others” from COVID-19. All it does is give corporations and hackers access to more private consumer data.