We do it all the time.
We make a major (or minor) purchase and we want it to last forever. So, we fill out and send in the warranty card. Or, perhaps our address and phone number are collected and put into a database at the Point of Sale. We leave with the peace of mind that we’re covered – and the company has one new addition to its customer base.
We’ve all seen the words “We take your privacy seriously.”
Lest you feel overly comfortable with that, check out this story “RadioShack is selling tens of millions of email and home addresses“. As with most stories like this, the comments are worth a good read as well as the original story from Bloomberg. It’s not a slam towards Radio Shack; goodness knows that they were my primary source of computer material from my early Tandy days. It’s the whole business concept that we need to point an eye to.
Of note in the post are the people who claim that this is a non-story – your information is bought and sold all the time. It’s the stuff that makes for meal time unsolicited marketing phone calls.
We live in a world where information is freely traded and used. As an example, we owned one of the Cobalts that General Motors recalled because of the ignition switch problem. We went back to the place of purchase which is no longer a Chevrolet dealership and were told that they couldn’t do the repairs; we had to go to an authorized General Motors dealer. It made sense. Now, since the repair (and addition to their contact database), we get regular contact from the sales department offering deals to get us to trade it in. The contact information certainly has gone a long distance from us originally supporting a local dealer who has been great and supportive over the years.
In the article, there is an indication that it could get political with moves to block this. It would be nice to get a definitive ruling, albeit in the United States. But, we’re so close to each other in the form of business that it would catch the eye of our politicians as well. While the original vendor may “take your privacy seriously”, your information may be the final asset that they have to address their bills.
As an individual, there’s not a great deal that can be done in the big scheme of things. With all purchases, it’s OK to indicate “I’d rather not give you that information”. Online, why not open an additional email account (in your name, of course, but separate from your main email account) for those services that require an email for access?
It’s just another reason to keep your eyes open and consider the consequences should the worst happen.
As one of the commenters in the original post mentioned, “could you imagine if Google went bankrupt”?