Working out of a Starbucks for a little bit (yes with a VPN). I'm not signed into any Google services with my default browser (Safari 12 on Mojave). Not signed into the Starbucks website either.

How do they know who I am? How am I on some list now? And what list? I didn't check a box, sign up for anything, or otherwise identify myself. WTF.

Sure, Google/Starbucks might have a cookie planted if I've used this wifi/portal before. Might recognize my MAC address too.

But I'm 99% sure I've never entered personal info into this portal dialog. It's just a pretty landing page with a button labeled "Start using Wifi" or something.

I'm 100% sure I haven't logged into Google services with Safari.

So I'm still bothered that it tells me "Yay you're on the list! Check your email!"

@chartier It doesn't actually give any identifying information. Might just be a "dumb" static page that assumes some other part of the website was able to scrape your information, maybe?

@jeff_lamarche Sigh. Decent theory as any other. But it really irks me that we're at this point of having to guess at obscure technical details as to how a company tracked me down and supposedly added me to a list I never opted into.

@chartier MAC Address spoofing*2 or tethering to your mobile is only way to not give it to them. This address is used to ad target too. Stores have sniffers to follow MAC addresses or BT radio address to track you around stores (with or without ‘you’ connecting) if you leave either on in public too.*1


@Azotad @chartier
I'm not a geek but...

It says at the top that "You're connected. ... will log on to Wi-Fi automatically at ... stores."

Maybe it doesn't matter that you're using . Doesn't VPN just create a tunnel to sites you visit? If you've connected to their , then I think they would know that you're there. :blobcatpeek:

@chartier @evelynyap
the VPN does allow the user to tunnel out, but this appears like some sort of dialog box, so when you connect to their WiFi, they force this on the user - McDs (in my country at least) won't let you use the WiFi without logging on, VPN or no.

@chartier Is that some kind of portal page? They know your WiFi MAC address.

@chartier MAC address. You signed up at some point in the past on that device.

@chartier in addition to your Wi-Fi MAC address, they could have cookies on your web browser (even not being logged in), i think those pages are web pages and have access to cookies.

@chartier you connected to their network, before your VPN came up and the captive portal probably is reading a cookie that google dropped their at one time

@chartier commercial free wifi services use MAC address and everything else you can imagine to track you, thanks to owning the routers in so many places.

@chartier My local Starbucks knows me because they forced me to create a login (with email) to use their wifi.

@chartier I wonder if maybe they don’t and they are just being creepy. Wouldn’t count on it, though.

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