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RadioShack, which has grown increasingly irrelevant in recent years thanks to the rise of online shopping, was finally forced to file for bankruptcy. A court overseen bankruptcy auction might just offer a way for RadioShack to avoid liquidation and continue operations. However, a key item that RadioShack wants to put up for auction is causing quite a controversy. RadioShack wants to auction off the private data of 117 million users. This data includes names, phone numbers, email and home addresses, and activity data.

The sale of users’ data was challenged by the state of Texas. Tennessee later joined Texas in the challenge. They claim RadioShack would be violating its own privacy policy if it sold users’ data.  RadioShack told its online customers, “We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time.” Signs at their brick-and-mortar stores make a similar promise, “The information you give us is treated with discretion and respect. We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list. From time to time, we may send you information from our company or from select, responsible companies that may join with RadioShack to bring you special offers.”

In order to avoid delaying the sale, the states have requested that the judge require any buyer to allocate a price for the personal data separately from the other assets that are being auctioned off. If the court does eventually rule that RadioShack cannot sell off the data, then it would not impede the sale of the other assets, if they are handled separately.

AT&T has raised its own objections to the sale. It claims that some of the data is not RadioShack’s to sell, because the data belongs to AT&T as part of a mobile phone selling arrangement. The court has not yet ruled on objections raised by the states or AT&T.

Should RadioShack be allowed to sell off the personal data of its users, or should it be held to the promise it made to customers? Leave your comments below.


Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.