Bankrupt Radio Shack will sell the customer data they promised to keep private

They were the first company to dabble in a laughably crude version of the surveillance business-model, aggressively collecting your address every time you bought batteries so they could get into the direct-mail racket.

Now that they're out of business (and where will we get our VHS cleaning cassettes now?), their bankruptcy trustees are going to sell all that data they promised they wouldn't sell or share. They're even flogging the data they collected on behalf of AT&T, which was only supposed to be used by the phone company. Congrats, Radio Shack, you've managed to shock a US company over private data handling practices!

The states claim that RadioShack told its online customers (PDF) that "We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time." Signs at RadioShack's brick-and-mortar stores had similar language, according to the suit. "The information you give us is treated with discretion and respect. We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list. From time to time, we may send you information from our company or from select, responsible companies that may join with RadioShack to bring you special offers," said a sign at a Florida store, according to an exhibit (PDF).

It's not just the states that are objecting. AT&T claims that part of the data isn't even RadioShack's to sell and instead is AT&T's through a mobile-phone selling arrangement.

Despite privacy policy, RadioShack customer data up for sale in auction [David Kravets/Ars Technica]

(Image: Guys! Guys! Radio Shack is going out of business, so this is your last chance to grab a VHS cleaning cassette before they’re all gone., Aaron Muszalski, CC-BY)

Notable Replies

  1. As Mr Ambrose Bierce, 221B Baker St, Hollywood, CA 90210, telephone 867-5309, I am not concerned.

  2. They should have used this as a bargaining chip to drum up business in the first place. "Buy our shit or we sell you out."

  3. Don't laugh -- I just got an inter-library loan of SpaceHunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone on VHS.

  4. dobby says:

    Even at 10 it felt creepy that they always had to get that damn address, some clerks were insistent so I always made up a name and address on the spot.
    Eff-you Radio Shack's corpse, you were my link in pre internet America to geeky stuff like my first computer and electronic components and circuit board, but I always felt slimed when the clerk would do that phone number thing at the end, especially to a kid.

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