Famous last words. How many times has a company told you they would never sell your personal information, in order to get you to sign up, give them your name, your email, your phone number? It sounds great. Hey, I can trust those guys, they will protect my information. And the company is probably sincere when it says that to you.
The problem is that we live in the age of Big Data. For many companies, the most valuable asset they own is their database about their customers. Would Facebook have any value at all without all that information about you and your Facebook friends? Promises not to share or sell customer information can come back to bite your company in the ass. Don’t take my word for it. Just ask Radio Shack.
The result of all this was that Radio Shack had to enter into an agreement with a number of parties, substantially limiting its ability to sell 117 million customer records. That’s 117,000,000 customer records. Instead of being able to sell the entire set of data, which would include credit and debit card information, transaction history, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and email addresses, Radio Shack has to destroy most of the data and can sell only a subset of the email addresses. And that subset of email addresses is also subject to various restrictions. Consequently, the data asset is of far less value to Radio Shack than originally anticipated.