Short Pump mall suspends cell-phone tracking program

Short Pump Town Center and another shopping mall in California have stopped tracking shoppers' cell phone signals temporarily, following a request from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York. CNNMoney was first to report the announcement.

Short Pump Town Center and the Promenade Temecula in southern California (both Forest City Enterprises properties) began tracking the cell phone signals of shoppers on Black Friday in an attempt to cull information about their habits. Though the tracking was done anonymously, it raised concerns among some shoppers and other observers who felt it still was a violation of privacy.

Both malls had put signs up on their properties to alert shoppers of the program and advising them to turn their phones off if they did not want their phones to be tracked. The malls planned to continue the program through New Year's Day.

"A shopper's personal cell phone should not be used by a third party as a tracking device by retailers who are seeking to determine holiday shopping patterns," Schumer said in a statement, according to CNNMoney. "Personal cell phones are just that -- personal. If retailers want to tap into your phone to see what your shopping patterns are, they can ask you for your permission to do so."

Forest City officials said that they have suspended the tracking program in order to work with its developer to address the concerns raised by Schumer and to discover if there are easier ways to allow shoppers to opt out.

Schumer had expressed concern that even though the malls were tracking shoppers anonymously, the possibility existed that the data could be available to hackers, who might then be able to connect to shoppers' personal information.
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Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
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Henricus Historical Park will present Sir Thomas Dale’s Colonial Christmas at Henricus from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. This event will feature first-person character interpretation of the etiquette, norms, customs, and laws regarding Christmas in Elizabethan-Jacobean English households in the early 17th-century. Experience holiday traditions of different socio-economic homes and enjoy period dance and song in the hospital. Admission is free. For details, visit http://www.henricus.org. Full text

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