By Amy Feldman

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What’s hiding in that phone booth? For you kids that’s a place that houses phones that don’t fit in your pocket.

Unbeknownst to New Yorkers, a company that controls the ad space on 5000 phonebooths installed Bluetooth beacons on them. To understand why that’s sinister, you need to know that Smartphones and mobile devices are set to identify Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth devices. That’s what lets your Bluetooth headset recognize the cell phone in your pocket for hands free communication.

Bluetooth beacons log the devices that come within range and then use those logs to follow devices – and the people holding them – as they move between sensors within a store, or between different stores. So as you approach a store, for example, they can send you a personalized coupon. Which sounds kind of ok, but mostly creepy. And it’s perfectly legal because while the FTC has recommended that companies disclose when they’re tracking you, it’s not required by law.

So to protect yourself, turn off the Bluetooth when you’re not using it or, better yet, make your calls from one of those old timey phones that don’t have blue tooth capability.