Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008 17:01 UK

Phones scheme to track unwitting

Blue Tooth
Bath University said all data collected was stored securely

A university has been tracking people's whereabouts through the Blue Tooth facility on mobile phones for the past three years, it has emerged.

Around Bath there are now a number of high frequency receivers that can monitor the signal from a mobile phone.

They then feed that information back to the university team, who can then track the signal's movement through Bath.

Councillor Sarah Bevan told the BBC she would ask the university to explain the purpose of the tracking experiment.

The university claims it is useful to study people's movements providing useful information for shops, for instance, which might then be able to gauge how many potential customers were to be found in any given area.

'CCTV cameras'

"I am worried about this because it's yet another part of a surveillance society," said Cllr Bevan.

"To me it's cyber stalking and I think most people would be uncomfortable with that situation."

The city's Liberal Democrat MP, Don Foster also had concerns.

"We need to have a degree of privacy in our lives. We don't want people knowing where we're going even if what we're doing is perfectly lawful," he said.

"We've already concerns about the growth of CCTV cameras but at least you know you're in an area where there are CCTV cameras, in this case you don't know that you're being tracked."

In a statement, Bath University told BBC News Online: "The data we have recorded has been stored securely and is used only for our research purposes.

"None of these uses has involved analysing or surveying individuals. We have not made our scanned data public, in contrast to other similar projects which have done."

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