RadioShack recently agreed to mediation with state attorneys general who have expressed privacy concerns about the sale of the Fort Worth, Texas-based electronics retailer's customer data. The company consented to this process after the attorneys general of several states raised questions about whether RadioShack in fact has the right to sell this information without breaching its own privacy policies.
Mediation Scheduled For May 14
Amid these concerns, Greg Gordon, attorney for RadioShack, told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brendan Shannon April 28 that the company has agreed to mediation
, which was scheduled to begin May 14, according to The Associated Press.
This date falls after an auction of intellectual property assets
- which includes the names and addresses of millions of RadioShack's customers - scheduled for May 11, The Associated Press reported.
However, the attorneys general of Texas, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Tennessee have formally protested this sale, asserting that the details the electronics retailer is providing are not only inadequate, but could also misguide buyers and other interested parties, according to the news source.
Disputes Surrounding Data Eligible For Sale
In addition, exactly what type of customer data RadioShack will be able to sell remains uncertain. Previously, the company said it was looking to sell the personally identifiable information of 117 million customers, the media outlet reported.
However, RadioShack now wants to sell the complete name and address files of 65 million customers, along with what it refers to as "transaction data," as well as email addresses of another 8.5 million customers, according to the AP.
This transaction data could contain as many as 200 fields, detailing who bought what, where the transaction was made and how much the customer paid, a consultant hired to facilitate the IP sale testified April 28, the media outlet reported.
Request For Disclosure
PrivacyBecause of the wealth of information involved, Hal Morris, a lawyer working for the Texas attorney general's office, asserted that the court should require RadioShack to provide more detail on exactly what is contained within the transaction data, according to the news source.
He is certainly not alone in bringing up this point. Andrew Vara, acting U.S. Trustee for the RadioShack case, contended earlier this month that because the electronics retailer has provided a "lack of specificity and clarity" surrounding the sale, court-appointed privacy ombudsman Elise Frejka's ability to perform her duties has suffered
, Law360 reported.
In addition, Vara asserted that because RadioShack has not shed enough light on the customer data it wants to sell, the court is unable to consider alternatives that could reduce the harm done to consumer privacy if the sale does indeed take place, according to the news source.
Judge Shannon Weighs In
Amid these concerns, Judge Shannon agreed with Morris' argument, but did not obligate RadioShack to disclose every one of the 200 fields existing in the consumer database, the AP reported. However, he did provide some guidance on the information the electronics retailer should include.
"I do believe that additional disclosure is necessary with respect to the phrase 'transaction data,'" said Judge Shannon, according to the news source. In addition, he recommended RadioShack provide a handful of sentences in the summary description that would contain "the sorts of things that I think the typical person might find interesting."
Even though RadioShack's attempts to sell customer data have gained some clarity as a result of Judge Shannon agreeing that the company should disclose more detail, these efforts are still facing some resistance, as attorneys representing both AT&T and Verizon Wireless asserted that the electronics retailer is barred from selling the information of customers who bought wireless plans and cell phones at RadioShack stores.