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)