RadioShack vows to auction off customers’ personal information in bankruptcy sale

“The remnants of RadioShack’s retail empire went on the auction block on Monday, giving bidders the first chance to snap up the company’s trademarks, patents, leases—and the names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers of millions of RadioShack customers,” Joshua Brustein reports for Bloomberg. “The company included personal data in its bankruptcy auction as its own asset class. A website maintained by Hilco Streambank, which is serving as an intermediary for RadioShack, says that more than 13 million e-mail addresses and 65 million customer names and physical address files are for sale. Hilco Streambank is careful to note that the bankruptcy court might not approve the deals, and there have already been two legal filings in attempts to block the sale of customer data.”

“The broader challenge, filed last week by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argues that RadioShack made an explicit promise to its customers not to sell their personal data,” Brustein reports. “Paxton claims that 117 million people are included in RadioShack’s customer data sale, which he says offers some details about shopping habits. The filing cites text from a sign displayed in RadioShack stores reading: ‘We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list.’ State law in Texas prohibits companies from selling personally identifiable information in a way that violates their own privacy policies. On Monday, Tennessee’s attorney general joined Texas’s objection.”

“Whether RadioShack’s attempt to sell customer data withstands legal challenge could come down to the structure of the sale,” Brustein reports. “An FTC spokeswoman pointed toward a 2011 letter addressing the bankruptcy of Borders, the bookstore chain, as a general statement of its approach to the issue. In that letter, the FTC said it realized that bankruptcy is a special case and agreed not to oppose the sale of personal data—with several conditions. The data couldn’t be sold as a stand-alone asset, the buyer had to be in the same line of business as the seller, and the buyer must agree to adhere to the same privacy policy.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “The buyer must agree to adhere to the same privacy policy?” What’s that, the privacy policy that says customers’ personal data isn’t for sale until the outfit goes bankrupt? Sheesh.

RadioShack. The worst-managed company on the planet gets even worse on its deathbed.

Godspeed to the Texas and Tennessee Attorneys General and to anyone else who tries to block the sale of RadioShack’s customer data.

Related articles:
Moribund RadioShack prepares to pull plug; NYSE suspends trading – February 3, 2015
Eulogy for RadioShack, the panicked and half-dead retail empire – December 1, 2014
Beleaguered RadioShack: Bankruptcy could be imminent – September 10, 2014
Apple’s retail market share grows as RadioShack and Best Buy shrink – March 7, 2014
Beleaguered RadioShack to close up to 1,100 U.S. stores – March 4, 2014
RadioShack cuts $20 off AT&T iPhone 5 models through December 15th – December 5, 2012
Sprint iPhone 4S to hit RadioShack this weekend, 16GB only – November 19, 2011
RadioShack to sell Apple iPhone 3G and 3GS – November 7, 2009
RadioShack CEO: We’re selling all the Apple iPods we can get – October 21, 2005


  1. There are many companies that try to demand personal information when you visit their stores. In most cases I point blank refuse, or else provide completely fictitious information, but when I have to provide an e-mail address or real address in order to get something, I add an identifying clue so that I know who is responsible if that information is misused.

    For instance if I needed to provide an e-mail to the Acme Widget company, the likely email address would be something like AcWidg@MyDomain. It’s then a trivial matter to automatically filter out unwanted e-mails if they abuse the situation.

    When it comes to postal addresses, I add a middle name, mis-spell my name, or use an inappropriate title, like Doctor or Professor.

      1. The way it works, I don’t really realise the scale of an offender. Once I discover that an e-mail has been sent from a third party company to the address that I gave to a particular company, I set up a rule in iCloud mail to automatically trash any further e-mails sent to that address.

        I used to set up rules in OS X Mail to do that, but still got the unwanted e-mails sent to my iPhone and iPad because IOS Mail doesn’t allow for rules, so I now set up the rule in iCloud Mail itself and no longer see any of those e-mails on OS X or IOS.

        Unwanted e-mails are a particular nuisance for me as I frequently travel abroad and data roaming charges soon start building up when there’s a lot of unwanted mail incoming.

  2. Hey citizens of the free world, it’s deja vu all over again.

    It looks like one of those great ideas and ideals like ““We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list.” then listing it as an asset and trying to sell it off, for a buck is getting the same sort of treatment as a constitution. One can hope that it’s stopped, or properly structured or or or, the right owner can be found, but if it isn’t we can always look at the bright side.

    1. Radio Schlock did not list integrity or morality as an asset, and that is certainly a patriotic thing considering the location of it’s herd quarters.
    2. Citizens of the free world, particularly those from Freedom will be able to enjoy the karma of watching the headless quarters of the company being renamed, very appropriately Fart Worthless as they enjoy their fries of Freedom.
    3. It’s just another hit on a rung of an empire crumbling and boy is it crumbling.

    Oh I’m not sure, should I put a /shjtt tag on this or not? Doesn’t matter, I’m sure citizens of the free world will find this hilarious.

    1. There are no citizens of the world, and people in countries where RS didn’t do business aren’t affected at all. I am only pointing this out because your dramatism doesn’t seem to allow for inconvenient facts.

      You are throwing a tantrum because some people in some company did something scummy. Welcome to life, bucko. Thank God that this is a rare event, even in a post-Christian culture, and not an institutional event, as you would find in your unfree countries, such as China, Russia, Zimbabwe, Venerzuela, South Africa, and all the tin-pot dictatorships around the globe.

      LOL @ empire. Still have some weird Randian fixation with the imaginary and mythical American empire, eh? I suppose some people always rejoice when a good company goes bad and then irrelevant. I pity you in your tiny hate-filled world. Get some love in your life, man, divine and/or otherwise.

      BTW, are you typing this from a state-owned computer in some dictatorship? I doubt you are. You’re probably hypocritically and parasitically abusing the freedom that your betters sacrificed for. Gratitude and humility are hard lessons for the smug and arrogant to learn, but they are needed lessons all the same.

      1. Hey Poster, thanks for the well interesting post, I think this will be a bit of fun, at least for me, your mileage may vary.

        While I addressed my post to the citizens of the free world it appears that you are retorting this by your statement “There are no citizens of the world” Actually poster there are, it’s a recognized idea. From the urban dictionary a definition of world citizen:

        “A person who wishes not to be tied to any one nation. These people see humanity as one and do not like the idea of nationalism, patriotism, racism, or any other segregating ideology. A world citizen sees themself first as a member of mankind.” I’ll add that Socrates, H.G. Wells, Albert Einstein and Jules Verne each considered themselves to be a world citizen. Perhaps these people do not exist according to you.

        Now I wasn’t being dramatic, nor was I throwing a tantrum, I alluded to the /shjtt tag on my post. It means satire, humor, joke, tall tale, but of course even putting that tag on it would confuse those without a sense of humor, but don’t worry, I’m sure others are finding it funny, especially after your post.

        Of course people do scummy things bucko, and though yes it is rare, there are some spots where it is pretty rampant, and we know where, well at least I do, and you’d have to look below those tin-pot dictatorships to figure out where I am talking about. Hint, they run special resorts where they “torture some folks”…repeatedly…for over decade…some of them innocent. That sure make those tin pot dictatorships look good.

        Again the American Empire is not considered by some to be a myth, American Imperialism is well documented, hey it’s even in Wikipedia, go figure.

        I think your pity might be misappropriated, the last time I looked love does not include torturing innocent people, immorally invading the sovereign territory of another country, murdering unarmed people, cyber espionage, cyber sabotage, industrial spying. Beside I’m just pointing it out, knowing full well that there is always a goof out there willing to shoot the messenger in the hopes that the message will be forgotten. Fortunately thanks to the “aim for Bin Laden, hit Saddam Hussein” guidance system messengers hardly get hit these days.

        I bought my computer. I seriously would like to find out how I am abusing the freedom that my peers and family have fought for. Last time I looked I wasn’t removing the freedom of speech from anyone by let’s say locking them up and torturing them. I wasn’t going to any part of the world and killing innocent women and children. I am simply expressing my opinion and insofar at that is concerned, many do consider that an appropriate use of free speech.

        Now to your points and insights about the issue at hand, Radio Shack giving out personal data…. oh wait, you haven’t given any new insight into that.

        I guess that ends my communication insofar as you are concerned. Have a great day.

        For the citizens of the free and civilized world that are reading this, please take note of the three rules of thumb to expect when debating with someone using an American style tactic.

        1. Insult the messenger: We’ve seen lots of that haven’t we? I’m throwing a tantrum, inferences of me being hate filled, lacking gratitude and humility, inferences of being smug and arrogant. Typical

        2. Distract with smoke and mirrors: Yup, forget the issue at hand, what about those tin-pot dictatorships… and I love the state-owned computer question, such a good yet totally irrelevant point to the issue.

        3. Never ever deal directly with the issue at hand, and in this case it’s “Mission Accomplished.”

    1. While I abhor what is happening and do not defend it in the slightest, in fairness it’s probably not Radio Shack doing this. The bankruptcy receiver/trustee is now in control and is charged with maximizing assets to pay off the creditors. They’re the ones that viewed the customer list as an asset with value that could be sold. And the creditors will be the people who benefit (after the receiver/trustee has been paid in full, of course).

      1. You are correct. Radio Shack, Inc. is no longer a functioning company – it’s just a collection of assets. The bankruptcy trustee, whomever he or she is, is responsible.

  3. Hopefully a lot of the information will be too old to be useful. Radio shack haven’t had that many customers for several years.
    Kinda of sad that the bankruptcy court is considering personal information as a property of the defunct company.

    1. Problem is, they have been rigorous at collecting phone numbers recently. Release of phone numbers is a complete violation of citizens, condoned by the courts to exacerbate the risks taken by the supposed totally efficient capitalist system. Is government selling us out again?

      1. LOL. Go home, Johnny Marxist. First, you don’t understand that there is no capitalist “system” that you can ascribe blame to, but rather decisions made by individuals. In this case, Radio Shack has the ability to ask for phone numbers. You have the right to refuse to provide them with one. See that? It’s a voluntary choice. Oh noes! Not the system, but an individual giving or not giving data voluntarily. The courts have nothing to do with this, unless there’s some kind of judicial ruling on some law that pertains to collecting phone numbers; but if there was, I’m sure you’d cite it to back up your argument. The government? LOL. This has to do with the actions of one company — and particular the controlling trustee/receiver in a bankruptcy case. Focus, son, focus.

        1. I appreciate the effort you are putting forth to bring everyone up to exhalted level of understanding of everything.

          It will be a government function that decides if the phone numbers of citizens are an asset that can be sold. It actually should be black letter law that personal information is always private, and available only to those to whom we have directly given the information. Sadly, it still seems to be a debate.

          The capitalist system that once again fails is the investors and creditors of Radio Shack that are seeking to be made whole through the liquidation of the assets. They’re big boys and didn’t make the loans or investment in Radio Shack on the basis of their possession of personal data from former customers. So, yeah, it is the capitalists seeking to ride on the backs of individuals from whom they should expect nothing.

          The sale of private phone numbers, many cell phones that cost the owners per minute of use, will result in annoyance at the least, direct costs in some cases and potential fraud. So, yes, the capitalists need to be controlled and it is Government that fulfills that role as the voice of the people. (Just to save time, corporations are not people too. If they were we could execute them when they kill people)

  4. A nice “screw you!” to their ex-customers on their way out the poor business model door isn’t it? With this kind of thinking it’s no wonder they suffered catastrophic chain failure. This RS CEO thought securely inside the box and the box imploded.

    I’ve noticed the thrill is long gone going to a Fry’s or Best Buy also which makes me wonder how much longer they’ll be around too.

    1. “the thrill is long gone going to Fry’s of BestBuy”?

      Really? BestBuy? From the first time I went into BestBuy, I was struck by high prices, forced service contracts or extended warranties, poor service, clueless staff, anti-customer policies, terrible management and . . .

      1. You just have to buy wisely from those places. I’ve done well with the few things I’ve gotten there in recent years. It helps to start from a strong financial position and buy during sales. The “Thrill” is really more about seeing the latest and greatest offerings, not so much from the companies themselves.

  5. Though I am an electronics hobbyist, one of the reasons I almost never visited RadioShack was their insistence on wanting your name, etc. when you visited the counter to pay for your overpriced items. Creeped me out. I always said, “If you’ll get in trouble with your boss otherwise, I’ll give ‘a’ name, not necessarily my name or you can just write ‘cash’.” I think trainees were admonished to press miscreants such as myself for this info. I always felt sorry for them, working for such a lousy company.

  6. This is nothing new for the quality of Radio Shack management. My first computer was a Tandy 1000EX, bought from them in 1987. Even back then their management made almost nothing but bad decisions. Read their Wikipedia page, and you’ll wonder how they managed to last this long.

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