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Billboards will track cell phones starting Monday

Posted at 6:26 PM, Mar 01, 2016

DENVER, Colo. -- One of the country's biggest outdoor advertisers is unrolling a new program that allows billboards to track cell phones.

Clear Channel Outdoor, owner of thousands of billboards nationwide, starts the 'Radar' program in major markets on Monday.

"I'm not a criminal. I'm not doing anything bad!" said Laura Wilkey, who opposes the program. "It's actually rather horrifying to think that our privacy is being invaded once more."

A Clear Channel Outdoor commercial advertises Radar "measures consumers real world travel patterns and behaviors as they move through their day."

Clear Channel billboards won't collect personal data, like age or gender, from phones, but they will track travel and direction.

"Once you have multiple cell phone towers receiving a signal, what happens is triangulation," said Dr. Steve Beaty, Computer Science professor at Metropolitan State University Denver. "They know exactly where you are."

Beaty says, even if the information collected doesn't bother you now, it may in the future.

"We're moving along down the slippery slope. This is evolutionary. And, all of a sudden, it's like, holy cow, what have we allowed throughout time?" said Beaty. "It's a whole lot of information."

The information is passed along to advertisers to measure how effectively the billboard reaches a target audience.

The 'Radar' program will start in 11 major markets, including New York and Los Angeles. There are plans to unveil more billboard trackers in other cities by the end of the year.