When a retailer folds, the bankruptcy trustee sells your customer data to the highest bidder

This article is news with liberal commentary.

In the Covid-19 economy, many retailers are filing for bankruptcy. When that happens, their assets go on the block, for sale to the highest bidder to pay creditors.

Those assets include customer lists, often with personal information from “physical addresses and their email addresses to things like demographic characteristics and their purchase histories with that particular company.” That information often is worth more than the real estate and other assets. Read story here.

Of course, customers aren’t notified their information is being sold or to whom, or for what purposes. In a bankrupcty auction, anyone can buy that information, the only qualification being having money to get it. The sale of this information is likely to be followed by solicitations, telemarketing calls, emails, and potentially spam robocalls and phishing emails.

There might be some legal limits to transferring such information. (If you’re interested in the technical details, read this article by a lawyer.) Possibly someone will advocate for your privacy rights in bankruptcy court. But there you can’t count on it, and probably can’t afford a lawyer to enforce any whatever privacy rights you have.

That’s why these rights should be protected by the government, acting on your behalf, starting with enactment of stronger consumer protections in the federal bankruptcy code, which was rewritten by Republicans in 2005 to favor business interests. But don’t expect that from the government we have now.

Photo: Nieman Marcus is bankrupt. If you’ve ever shopped there, everything they know about you will be sold to the highest bidder.

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