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SceneTap changes privacy policy amid controversy

5/31/2012

One day after officially launching, the controversial mobile application SceneTap changed its privacy policy and terms of use agreement, according to ArsTechnica.

The app uses facial detection technology in conjunction with video cameras to determine provide some information about the crowd gathered at a given location, telling users how full the bar is and the proportion of men to women.

Because the application is reliant on cameras placed in bars and other gathering places, some have protested that the company is invading people's privacy. ZDNet said it was being called a "stalker app."

Bar owners have agreed to install the cameras in part because they also provide potentially valuable data about the bar's demographics, enabling owners to track the effectiveness of certain promotions in drawing a particular kind of crowd, according to SFWeekly. Still, many bars pulled out of partnership agreements with SceneTap after customer complaints.

At the official launch party for the app in San Francisco on May 20, SceneTap CEO told ArsTechnica reporters that the app does not store facial recognition data. A day later, the app's privacy policy was changed to make this explicit.

The SceneTap launch occurred 10 days before a one-day conference on mobile application privacy policies took place in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Federal Trade Commission. At that event, participants said mobile policies need to be clearer than those governing websites.