About 25 U.S. states oppose sale of RadioShack's customer data

Radio Shack 1980s
Credit: Radio Shack

Several state consumer protection agencies in the U.S. have joined the state of Texas in objecting in bankruptcy court to the proposed sale by RadioShack of personal information of its customers.

In a filing Wednesday, the state of Texas said it had received support from 21 governmental consumer protection entities to its objection last week to the planned sale of personally identifiable information (PII) of 117 million RadioShack customers.

The state of Texas had earlier objected to the sale, citing both the in-store and online privacy policies of the consumer electronics retailer. "All versions of the privacy policy contain an unequivocal provision that consumer PII will not be sold," state officials said in a filing to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The state said it had arrived at the number of customers likely to be affected from the deposition last week by a representative of RadioShack. Customer lists and other customer-related information have been included as assets to be sold in the asset purchase agreement, it added.

Hilco Streambank, an adviser for asset sales in bankruptcy cases, has listed on its website 13 million email addresses and 65 million customer names and physical address files, among RadioShack assets for sale.

The states of Oregon and Pennsylvania also said in filings Wednesday that they were supporting the objection by Texas. On Monday, the state of Tennessee had also backed the plea.

"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," Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum wrote in a filing. "It defined that information in order to specially protect it."

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III wrote in a filing that the sale of PII is impermissible because it violates applicable non-bankruptcy law.

New York's Attorney General Eric. T. Schneiderman warned in a statement that his office is committed to taking appropriate action to protect New York customers if RadioShack sells customer data. New York hasn't signed on to Texas' challenge.

The state consumer protection organizations opposing Radio Shack's move are from Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

RadioShack filed for bankruptcy protection in early February. The company could not be immediately reached for comment on the actions by the states.

AT&T has also asked to be heard before the disposal of the assets because of customer and other information collected on its behalf by RadioShack, as a reseller of AT&T phones and service plans.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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