Here's an old fun fact about Bryant Park: It used to be a potter's field. Here's a new fun fact about Bryant Park: Anytime you go visit from now on, data firm PlaceIQ will be hoovering up your phone's location data for the Bryant Park Corporation, the not-for-profit that manages the city-owned park.

The point of the location data collection, which is supposed to be anonymous, is to gather data that can be used to sell sponsorships for park events and to "inform decisions about future programs and activities that appeal to all," Bryant Park Corporation Daniel A. Biederman said in a press release.

According to AdAge, PlaceIQ, a company that uses opt-in mobile app location data to detect when devices are present at specific locations:

tracks when mobile devices show up at retail shops, car dealerships, grocery stores and eateries and attaches an anonymized ID to those devices. The company uses mobile app location data -- the information consumers allow access to when they download most free mobile applications -- to detect when devices are present at specific locations.

The Bryant Park Corporation used an infographic to share some of the numbers they said the data firm has already collected from location data gathered from park visitors between May 2015 and April 2016, according to AdAge. Apparently, 65% of Bryant Park visitors commute to the park from outside of Manhattan, the average Bryant Park visitor was between 25 and 44 yars old and uh, the average park visitor is twice as likely to shop at PetSmart.

Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates against mass surveillance and for consumer privacy on the internet, questioned the implementation of the data collection. Beyond the general question of whether or not people should be forced to give up personal information from their phones, Schwartz questioned the reliability of the claim that the data could be 100% anonymous.

"If you have a database of 10 people and you don't have their name but you have their gender, their race, their height, a clever person is capable of de-anonymzing it," Schwartz said. "The public should never rest easy when a company claims they've successfully anonymized data."

PlaceIQ relies on individual users to opt-out of their data being shared by apps that users download, according to their privacy policy.

A Bryant Park Corporation spokesperson emailed the following statement to Gothamist regarding the data collection:

While we can’t speculate on the conversation you’ve had with a third party regarding data processing practices, we are able to tell you that an accurate representation of fact is we contracted for a report providing summarized analytical insights into the foot traffic through the park over a one-year period, not data collection.

This study was undertaken in order to understand likely foot traffic trends as a whole, and what brand affiliations visitors might have in order for us to continue to improve the park experience. We are not “tracking” visitors as was erroneously reported. We contracted with a data analytics company, PlaceIQ, to provide us this report. They use the information to generate insights regarding the common characteristics or patterns about large groups of people (such as the likelihood of visiting a museum or another point of interest). Consumer privacy was one of the first concerns we raised in our meetings. We felt more than comfortable selecting PlaceIQ based on their commitment to consumer privacy, and because they are a member of the NAI, an organization committed to best practices in data usage.

This anonymous study is one of several tools BPC uses to measure visitors’ interest and satisfaction with park activities and amenities. BPC regularly counts the number of people in the park. This also yields information such as the gender balance. There is an urban management credo that says a public space is considered safe when the gender balance is as close to 50-50 as possible. Bryant Park consistently has greater than 50 percent female patrons, an indication that the park is viewed as safe and clean.

BPC also conducts surveys and face-to-face interviews with park visitors.