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Ruling: California Businesses Can No Longer Request Zip Codes From Consumers

Published on Mar 2, 2011

Summary

Read 'Ruling: California Businesses Can No Longer Request Zip Codes From Consumers' at 'Time to Start Up,' the small business blog by BizFilings.
Retail entrepreneurs forming a company in California should take notice of a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court, upholding an old law that prohibits consumers' "personal identification numbers," which in the case of Jessica Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma, refers to zip codes. According to the February 10 ruling, such violations can result in fines of up to $1,000 per infraction, according to Inc. magazine - an announcement that has since spurred class action lawsuits against Old Navy, Target, The Container Store, Radio Shack, Nordstrom and others. The California Supreme Court ruled against retailers' ability to use such information to back-track the addresses of consumers for marketing and promotional purposes. "I wasn't anticipating the extent and emphatic nature of (the court's privacy) protections," Jeffrey Krinsk, a class action lawyer, told Reuters. "We thought we had to bring some cases in order to reaffirm the validity of the rule." Since the ruling, Krinsk's firm, Finkelstein & Krinsk, has brought cases against several of the above-mentioned companies. However, other experts, such as California attorney Donna Wilson, maintain that the ruling is unfair, arguing that stores do not have nefarious intentions in regards to consumers' zip codes or even their addresses. "The whole idea of retailing is marketing," Wilson told the San Francisco Chronicle. "How do you get in contact with your customers if you're not allowed to ask for the information?" Are you a California retail store owner impacted by this legislation? We'd love to get your thoughts.