Twenty-two states, including Indiana, have rallied around Texas in its legal challenge to RadioShack’s plan to sell personal data on 117 million customers.
Last month, RadioShack proposed to sell a list of the names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and physical addresses of its customers, as well as information on some customers’ shopping habits, as part of an asset sale related to its bankruptcy proceedings.
The company is closing thousands of stores nationwide, including 45 in Indiana.
This week, consumer protection agencies from the 22 states and the District of Columbia added letters to the court filing to voice support for Texas’s objection to the sale. It's a reminder that while companies see consumer data as an asset to be exploited, others see it as personal property to be protected.
"There can be no doubt that the information to be sold is exactly the information that Congress intended to be included in its new definition of personally identifiable information," wrote Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon's attorney general. "It defined that information in order to specially protect it."
Other states may join. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who hasn't signed on to Texas's challenge, distributed a statement Wednesday afternoon saying it was monitoring the situation. "When a company collects private customer data on the condition that it will not be resold, it is the company's responsibility to uphold their end of the bargain," he said.
RadioShack didn't respond to requests for comment.
It’s not clear that is what will happen with RadioShack’s trove of e-mail addreses and phone numbers. On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that Standard General, one of RadioShack’s lenders, was poised to win the asset auction. But another bidder, Salus Capital Partners, has complained to the judge that the bidding process hasn’t been fair, and says it has outbid Standard General. A hearing on the auction results is scheduled for Thursday.
The states supporting Texas are Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.