Companies Want To Sell User Data

Radio Shack

RadioShack Store

RadioShack filed for bankruptcy in early February this year , and is now in the midst of the process of finding ways to pay back those creditors they owe (Peterson). From auctioning off real estate to selling trademarks they have established, and now the possibility of selling Consumer data are a few ways they are trying to make money to pay back what they owe. Their privacy policy does state “We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time”, this seems clear that they aim to keep consumer data private (RadioShack).  According to Bloomberg, Hilco Streambank, the company serving as the intermediary for RadioShack, listed Customer data as an asset for sale (Coleman). While there is not much to fear in this case because RadioShack is encountering many obstacles not only with the bankruptcy court of Delaware, but as well as AT&T who is arguing that some of the RadioShack customer databases have information they obtained through AT&T phone sales (Peterson). Among the regulators is the Federal Trade Commission , who has in the past intervened between cases where companies want to sell consumer information, but for now has not taken any action (Peterson).

RadioShack is just an example of companies that gather information from names to addresses and through shopping they gather consumer preferences too. In a time where technology is becoming more and more advanced, and data collecting is expanding. People should be more careful when accepting Policy agreements, while they may seem long and boring, they are very important. As Andrea Peterson, proposes “Google and Facebook have contemplated that possibility and leave open the possibility that customer data could be sold” (Peterson). However Google seems to be on the side of consumer protection while Facebook is much more open minded. Thier policy states that “if the ownership or control of all or part of our Services or their assets changes, we may transfer your information to the new owner”, along with sharing within Facebook companies and other applications (Facebook).

The market for consumer data is definitely a possibility and the buyers could be known or unknown, but the consumer would not know.  The idea of others knowing your name, email, shopping preference may not be a big deal, but think about where technology is going. We now have fingerprint scanning cell phones, to heartbeat monitoring watches that are collecting this data every time we use them. This data is now more valuable and the rights to this data could have been signed away the moment we hit accept on the privacy policy. This market is likely not to occur for the time being because of regulators such as the bankruptcy courts, to the Federal Trade Commision, who have intervened with cases in order to  protect consumer privacy details. The idea that our information is the product and we would not have control over it not even the price is something to think about. As the Washington Post article stated “How much that data could be worth to a buyer is still unclear”, and buyers are a key component for a market to function and be stable (Peterson).

Works Cited

Coleman, Lauren, Jodi Xu Klein, and Klein Dawn McCarty. “Standard General Said to Prevail in Bidding for RadioShack.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Facebook. “Data Policy.” Data Policy. Facebook, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Peterson, Andrea. “Bankrupt RadioShack Wants to Sell off User Data. But the Bigger Risk Is If a Facebook or Google Goes Bust.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 26 Mar. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/03/26/bankrupt-radioshack-wants-to-sell-off-user-data-but-the-bigger-risk-is-if-a-facebook-or-google-goes-bust/&gt;

Picture of Radio Shack. Digital image. Cult of Mac. Rob LeFebvre, 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. <http://cdn.cultofmac.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/586_radioshack.jpg&gt;.

RadioShack.” RadioShack Online Privacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015. <http://www.radioshack.com/privacy-policy/privacy.html&gt;.

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One thought on “Companies Want To Sell User Data

  1. taylorqjohnson says:

    The idea that consumers’ personal info could be sold by certain companies is very disturbing. Personally, it is especially strange when I look up a specific product on a retail website (nordstrom.com, for example) and then see that same exact product posted as an ad on Facebook. Hopefully measures to protect consumer privacy will stay in place and will improve.

    Like

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