London tosses out Wi-Fi-sniffing 'smart bins'

The rubbish receptacles were all about serving up targeted ads -- a trick that required them to track phone data of passersby.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
Renew London smart bins
Renew London says its smart trashcans collected anonymized and aggregated MAC data from passing smartphones. Renew London

"Smart bins" are bin and gone. The City of London Corporation has called for Wi-Fi-enabled, data-sniffing bins to stop recording your movements as you wander the streets.

Twelve recycling "pods" with LCD screens showing adverts have been sniffing out details of your phone as you pass and tracking your subsequent movements. But with the local authority flagging the bins to the Information Commissioner's Office, trials of the technology have been suspended.

The bins were placed by a startup called Renew London on streets around London's Cheapside. According to The Independent, the bins recorded details of a whopping 4,009,676 devices in the pockets of passers-by.

Click here to find out what Renew London CEO Kaveh Memari had to say about the matter on Monday.

Read more of "'Smart' bins banned from grabbing your data as you pass by" at CNET UK.