RadioShack began auctioning off its name and intellectual property on Monday, but a Bloomberg report on Tuesday suggests that RadioShack’s customer data from over the years might also be sold off in the deal.
A website on Hilco Streambank, which is acting as an intermediary for RadioShack, says an asset class of personal data, including 13 million email addresses and 65 million customer names and physical addresses, is up for sale. Hilco Streambank notes that bankruptcy court might not approve the deals.
Two legal filings have already been made in hopes of blocking the sale of customer data, including one from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who says RadioShack made an explicit promise to customers not to sell their personal data or details about their hopping habits. As Bloomberg points out, it’s actually against the law in Texas for companies to sell personally identifiable information “in a way that violates their own privacy policies.”
Tennessee’s attorney general has also objected to RadioShack’s potential sharing of customer data, and so has AT&T, which worked with RadioShack to help market and sell phones. AT&T argues that RadioShack doesn’t own the data — it says it belongs to them — and that RadioShack’s records should be destroyed. As Bloomberg also notes, “one bidder in the bankruptcy proceedings plans to co-brand some RadioShack locations as Sprint stores, [so] AT&T is clearly concerned that the auction could give sensitive information to a competitor.”
The first time the sale of personal information was legally challenged during a bankruptcy happened 15 years ago, when the online toy store Toysmart.com proposed to sell information about its customers during its bankruptcy auction in 2000. But, since the information included data about children — gathered illegally in the first place, mind you — the FTC sued Toysmart to block the sale, and the data was destroyed.
For more on the history and legality of auctioning off personal data in bankruptcy, check out Bloomberg’s report.