WERE it a person, I'd have them done for stalking.
Or some kind of public harassment. There is a tom peeping at my habits, following me through the streets, invading my doorstep and all the time feigning favour while imposing their own greedy wants.
Unfortunately, O2 is my voyeuristic constant companion and I've only locked myself into a contract with the creepy, creeping beggars.
Every other day, they send me text messages offering discounts on well-kent brands. Not an issue in itself, no, but the offers are tailored not to my preferences but to my location. I have no need of diary-keeping; a quick scan back in my text log shows exactly where I was on any give day at any given time.
"Discover the art of perfect hair. Your nearest salon is REGIS."
"You're just metres away from the new Air Max+ at JD Sports."
Boots on Sauchiehall Street, Shell on Victoria Road, Co-op Battlefield Road - they know where I'm near.
My kneejerk response to these texts is: "Witchcraft!" It's not witchcraft, it's technology. Your smartphone uses a unique address, called a MAC address, and when it connects to a wifi device, your speed and location can be tracked and advertising beamed at you. I don't like it.
The City of London Corporation doesn't like it either: in August it pulled a scheme that saw creeper bins track the smartphones that moved past them in the street. The recycling bins, operated by Renew London, could show adverts tailored to the people walking past. Almost 530,000 smartphones were tracked before the City ditched the trial.
("Try the new Comfort Exhilarations Water Lily & Lime at your Sainsbury's Local, Victoria Road.")
This information abuse harks back to ID cards. The National Identity Card scheme was abolished in 2010. The Government justified ID cards with an ever-fluid and ever-changing set of reasons: to prevent identity fraud and benefit fraud, fight terrorism and crackdown on organised crime. In reality, equipping the populace with plastic nameplates was not for the benefit of the people, like Paddington's "Please Look After This Bear" tag - it was just a middle finger to personal freedom. We are already so governmentally tagged; it must be the minority who don't carry a driving licence, a National Entitlement Card or a Young Scot Card.
("Pick up your squeezy pack of Hellmann's mayonnaise at Tesco 175 Trongate.")
But I increasingly find myself opting in to a retail ID system. My Boots card is a wonder for saving points but, while I used to find the targeted vouchers they send in the post useful, I now wonder about the storage and the raking through of my spending habits.
Ditto Tesco's Clubcard, scrabbling through my shopping basket and sending money-off coupons for slightly more expensive versions of my normal brand.
Speaking of which, I had a spurious parking ticket from a private parking company after stopping for less than a minute in a Tesco car park. How did they get my address to send their threatening letters to? They bought my personal details from the DVLA for a frivolous £2.50.
("Did you know that Sure Compressed has an improved formula? Find yours in Boots Queen Margaret Drive today.")
It may be harmless, to target adverts and special offers at consumers the company believes will be interested in them. They probably would spin it so that they're doing you a favour but I feel tracked, spied on. I feel insulted that some algorithm, somewhere, is building an image of my life from shopping. It's time for corner stores and landlines; I'll forfeit convenience to dodge the gaze of these retail creepers.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.