State Supreme Court Okays Online Retailer's Data Collection

Consumer and privacy advocates are decrying a state Supreme Court ruling that allows online retailers to require customers to provide their home address and phone numbers to make credit card purchases.  

The 4-3 decision says a California law prohibiting traditional retailers from collecting such information does not apply to online stores. Joe Rideout with Consumer Action in San Francisco says the ruling is a blow to consumer privacy.

"It really opens the door for online retailers to collect this," he says. "Not necessarily to prevent fraud, but also for marketing purposes or for selling your information to other businesses or third parties."

The court noted that brick-and-mortar stores see the actual credit card and verify the customer's identity - an option unavailable to online consumers. 

Privacy advocates point out the law was enacted in 1971 before the emergence of online commerce.  They say the law needs to be updated to reflect current technology.

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