Can a retailer or restaurant in the United States legally collect user's data (user's profile or frequency, etc.) through obtaining their MAC address?

  • Is this for a business that makes wifi available to its customers? I ask because getting a MAC address for a customer accessing a web site would be a very different matter. May 26, 2019 at 7:23
  • Many devices use a fake, random MAC address while they are discovering WiFi networks, to prevent this data collection to happen in any useful way. Only when they connect to the WiFi network will they reveal their real MAC address (which they have to do, to make WiFi work)..
    – gnasher729
    May 26, 2019 at 20:22
  • @gnasher729 They don't need to use their real MAC address when connecting to a network. All they need is a unique MAC address, so it's perfectly fine for them to spoof a random address as long as they don't change it for the duration of the connection. There's no need for them to use their hardware address.
    – forest
    May 28, 2019 at 5:23

1 Answer 1


Generally speaking this is not prohibited by U.S. law outside of specialized situations (e.g. a promise in a privacy policy not to gather such information).

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