Radio Shack Wants To Auction Off Customer Data In Bankruptcy Sale
After a run that lasted nearly a century, Radio Shack fell on hard times and is on the verge of extinction, at least as you know it. What's left of the 94-year-old chain went up for auction on Monday; with hedge fund Standard General emerging as the highest bidder. It also happens to be one of Radio Shack's creditors, though it could be the new owner of Radio Shack if a federal bankruptcy court approves the asset sale. Speaking of which, those assets contain personal information about you, the consumer.
That's assuming you've ever shopped at a Radio Shack, even if it was a long, long time ago. If so, Radio Shack could be in possession of your name, email address, phone number, shopping habits, and other personal information. And yes, Radio Shack is including this information in its bankruptcy auction as its own asset class, Bloomberg reports.
Hilco Streambank, the firm that's serving as an intermediary for Radio Shack, says that more than 13 million email addresses and 65 million customer names and physical address files are for sale. Those could be conservative figures. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a challenge last week to block the sale of customer data, and in his filing, he claims 117 million are included in Radio Shack's sale.
This is a sticky situation Radio Shack finds itself in. That information is valuable, though Radio Shack in the past promised it wouldn't sell personal data. Yet here we are, Radio Shack fighting for its life, and it will be up to a bankruptcy court whether the sale to Standard General can go through as proposed.
Another interesting cog in this machine is AT&T's involvement. AT&T is also fighting the sale and wants Radio Shack to destroy its records. AT&T argues that the data isn't Radio Shack's to sell, as the two worked together to market and sell phones. Data on AT&T's customers is included in Radio Shack's files, and since one of the bidder's in the auction wants to co-brand some Radio Shack locations as Sprint stores, AT&T fears that its data could fall into the hands of wireless competitor.