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Corporate, or organizational, surveillance can take a lot of forms, including watching customers, competitors, or the basic operating environment (environmental scanning). Given this volume’s emphasis on privacy, this entry focuses generally on surveillance of customers, including privacy and other concerns raised by the expansion of such surveillance.

Customer Surveillance

Organizations watching customers is a phenomenon with a long history. Previously, surveillance often took the form of observation studies. Observation studies, taking place in public where individuals know or should know that they could potentially be objects of scrutiny, were usually not controversial. Techniques were as simple as noting automobiles or pedestrians passing by for a traffic count or tracking a shopper’s path through a store. Ethical problems arose only in situations where customers would have a reasonable ...

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