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Borders Bust Means B&N May Get Your Shopping History

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the you-probably-should-have-anticipated-this dept.

Privacy 230

coondoggie writes "To perhaps no one's surprise, Borders bookstore collected a ton of consumer information — such as personal data, including records of particular book and video sales — during its normal course of business. Such personal information Borders promised never to share without consumer consent. But now that the company is being sold off as part of its bankruptcy filing, all privacy promises are off. Reuters wrote this week that Barnes & Noble, which paid almost $14 million for Borders' intellectual assets (including customer information) at auction last week, said it should not have to comply with certain customer-privacy standards recommended by a third-party ombudsman."

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Glad I never bought from them. (1)

weav (158099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37481892)

Hope this never happens to Amazon...

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (2)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37481998)

Hope this never happens to Amazon...

What difference would it make?

Amazon UK has been spamming me with the same book I bought a month and a half ago. Would it matter if B&N does it too?

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482222)

Hope this never happens to Amazon...

What difference would it make?

Amazon UK has been spamming me with the same book I bought a month and a half ago. Would it matter if B&N does it too?

You are extremely naive if you think that is the only implication here.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482556)

Hope this never happens to Amazon...

What difference would it make?

Amazon UK has been spamming me with the same book I bought a month and a half ago. Would it matter if B&N does it too?

You are extremely naive if you think that is the only implication here.

And you are extremely paranoid if you think advertising is out to get you and you need to overreact to absolutely every type of potential marketing. What's your point? A solid point, please, not just "Advertising *sudden crazed handwaving* EEEEEEEEEEEEVUL HATE HATE HAET they're all gonna steal YOUR SOUL!!!1!1!".

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483028)

I believe the point is information was shared under the assumption that it would remain confidential, the fact that a company purchasing the scraps of the company that entered into this agreement is no longer willing to honor those conditions is a little disconcerting; it could potentially set a precedent where other information can be "released" without your consent simply because a company stops existing.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (3, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483262)

The real question is whose asset is your information. Consider that your information is on loan, subject to conditions of contract being fulfilled, at any time you are entitled to recall your private data and in turn the company is no longer required to provide you will value based upon the loan of that data.

The company has gone bankrupt and as such is no longer able to fulfil the conditions of contract the were the basis of the loan of your private data, failure to adhere to the conditions of contract means your private data must be returned to you ie. deleted.

You private data can not be transferred upon bankruptcy under new conditions, because the bankrupt company now owes you a debt, your privacy because it no longer can provide contracted services.

Yes the book you bought is the valueable info (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483116)

Just the list of valid e-mail addresses and credit card info is next to priceless in the wrong hands...

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482470)

Amazon sells many, many things including (but certainly not limited to) herbs, electronics, sex toys, bondage gear, gourmet food, and of course books about almost any subject. Any marketer would love to have detailed shopping histories from Amazon...

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482566)

Imagine if Amazon were to begin marketing things.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482742)

Not just marketers. A few examples if Amazon's data is public:

Ex-spouse: They find the bondage gears, candy, and take that in front of a judge to show that the person is unfit for any custody of the kids in the divorce, even supervised visits.

Insurance agents: The candy and gourmet food means that they can jack up health insurance rates. Oh, the cigars bought? Well, time for a physical unless you want smoker's rates.

Employers: More stuff to use to filter candidates on. Someone buys a lot of aspirin or herbal medicines? They might be a loon. Skip them .

LEOs: A DA riffling through what people bought in his district finds that certain people bought rolling paper, grinders, and an occasional scale. He gets the judge to sign off on multiple search warrants, gets a good number pot smokers put away for 2-10, and now him and the judge look good because they have added more people to the private prison rolls (who finance their election campaigns).

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483166)

A DA riffling through what people bought in his district finds that certain people bought rolling paper, grinders, and an occasional scale.

And anybody foolish enough to buy that combination of items, on Amazon, is an idiot. Those are all items you buy in person, with cash.
That being said, those are all legal items and no sane judge would issue a search warrant based on this type of flimsy circumstantial evidence alone.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37483132)

That would explain the Oregano Flavored Spongebob Ballgag offers I keep getting.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482078)

Hope this never happens to Amazon...

In all seriousness,

How long until Gmail "prioritises" all advertising into a "secondary" inbox that is not presented with ones personal mail by default.

I'm certain I'm not the only /.er who's set up rules for Amazon and the like to be automatically shunted into a different folder.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (3, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482530)

Does Amazon actually send you stuff you don't want? All I get from them are order and shipping confirmations, perhaps I clicked something about not sending me advertisements.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482552)

This. I've never received junk email from Amazon and I've been a customer since 1997.

Re:Glad I never bought from them. (2)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482696)

Right at the bottom of every marketing message from Amazon is a link to take you to your account page. Don't click on it. Instead open your browser and manually enter the link and enter your account. You can adjust exactly what email they send you from there.

how is this legal? (3, Insightful)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482008)

Information is an asset I'll admit. But the access to the information was clearly bounded by Border's privacy policy. I really don't understand why the courts are even considering the possibility of allowing it to be sold. If the privacy policy said only Borders would access the data then when Borders ceases to exist than so should the data. B&N can just ask you to give them the info if you choose to under their privacy agreement. The fact that the company would even try to purchase information covered under a privacy agreement with another company puts them on my no-buy list.

Re:how is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482046)

The US does not have any data protection act (other than medical, which is taken very seriously). He who collects it can do what the please with it. Which generally translates to selling to other parties.

Re:how is this legal? (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482300)

I think part of this is legal - B&N doesn't want to find itself ensnared by legal complications resulting from deficiencies in Borders' data collection or handling practices.

Even if B&N never in a million years intends to misuse the information, it's still worthwhile for them to attempt to indemnify against the possibility.

An example of this same kind of thing is that in states which allow one to carry a concealed weapon, there are many people who hold permits even though they never actually carry them, because the web of law around possession and transport of firearms is complex, and if you inadvertently violated some provision of the law you could find yourself in legal trouble. But having a permit to carry and possess at all times could save you in the case of you forgetting to lock a container or something like that.

Maybe that metaphor is a reach, but suits related to this can be very costly. It's worth B&N having their legal eagles see if they can conjure up a "get out of jail free" card, just in case.

Re:how is this legal? (4, Insightful)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482458)

I think part of this is legal - B&N doesn't want to find itself ensnared by legal complications resulting from deficiencies in Borders' data collection or handling practices.

While IANAL, From my limited understanding of Bankruptcy law, the courts can basically dissolve nearly any contract in place. So as far as the Bankruptcy court is concerned the Private Policy doesn't exist, and they can sell the information off regardless of what the Private Policy said. The Privacy Policy only protects against what Borders itself can do with the data in the course of their own business, but once you get to Bankruptcy court then all bets are off. That is the problem with Privacy Policies.

Now, if another company simply bought Borders then the Privacy Policy would still be in effect. The issue only comes into play when a company goes through Bankruptcy. Privacy Policies might even survive restructuring under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy; but it won't likely survive Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

That said, I think this is one area that Congress should address and fix - so the Bankruptcy courts are not so free to break the Privacy Policies, however restrictive the company may have made them.

Re:how is this legal? (5, Interesting)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482598)

I wonder if you could use the theory that the information isn't Borders', it's yours - and by breaking the contract under which it was provided, Borders no longer has a right to it.

Re:how is this legal? (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482794)

This exact issue is also affects cloud computing as a whole.

Take a cloud provider goes out of business. Another entity buys up all their servers, and now has free and complete access to the former clients' data. All data can be sold to the highest bidder (even if it is in a hostile country), or just slap it on a 20TB BitTorrent off of thepiratebay? Easily done, and there is not one thing legally that can be done about it.

Until the bankruptcy code addresses this with a stipulation that all data is either erased (with certificates of destruction of data or physical media), one needs to assume any and all "privacy policies" are "we will give any info to any and all we please."

Re:how is this legal? (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482948)

While IANAL, From my limited understanding of Bankruptcy law, the courts can basically dissolve nearly any contract in place.

I don' think bankruptcy can dissolve anything other than money contracts. (IANAL either).

Physical property, like land and houses are often accompanied with "contracts" such as covenants, easements, etc.
Yet even when these assets get sold thru bankruptcy you can't then claim that the easement or covenant is no longer in force.
These are public contracts that bind all future owners.

Similarly a publicly stated privacy policy, and explicitly restrictions on revealing consumer's credit card information, are public contracts.
The policy was in place at the time B&N bid on the Borders asset.

Borders explicitly stated (since 2008) in their Privacy Policy: [borders.com]

Disclosures in connection with acquisitions or divestitures. Circumstances may arise where for strategic or other business reasons Borders decides to sell, buy, merge or otherwise reorganize its own or other businesses. Such a transaction may involve the disclosure of personal and other information to prospective or actual purchasers, or receiving it from sellers. It is Borders' practice to seek appropriate protection for information in these types of transactions. In the event that Borders or all of its assets are acquired in such a transaction, customer information would be one of the transferred assets.

Similarly, B&N explicitly states (at least since April) in its privacy policy [barnesandnobleinc.com] :

Sales, mergers, and acquisitions. If Barnes & Noble becomes involved in a merger, acquisition, or any form of sale of some or all of its assets, personal information may be provided to the entities and advisors involved subject to a confidentiality agreement, and we will provide notice before any personal information is finally transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy.

So this seems to me to have been in the policy statements of Borders for a long time, most customers knew or should have known about this provision, and Borders provided an opt out link in the page referenced above. Therefore think B&N is well within their rights to use this information.

Re:how is this legal? (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483182)

This is an asset they wanted, that was attached to a promise (contract) - basically a liability attached to the asset. Bankruptcy is often used to restructure debt, but this obligation/liability is an intrinsic part of the asset. Better that data be destroyed than transferred apart from the promises of privacy that made the collection of it possible int he first place. If the separation of the data from the privacy policy is allowed, I can see it quickly getting abused.

Re:how is this legal? (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482706)

This sounds not unreasonable. B&N already has a huge amount of information on my book buying habits from my accounts with them (I have a loyalty card, and buy stuff from them online), and they've never used that to spam me excessively. I don't see why they would abuse the more limited info Borders may have on me. At best it would serve to piss me off and be less likely to use them.

Re:how is this legal? (5, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482086)

If the privacy policy said only Borders would access the data then when Borders ceases to exist than so should the data.

Data doesn't disappear just because the company does. This is why anyone who's interested in privacy should be ensuring that no-one else has their data in the first place.

A 'privacy policy' is not a legally-binding agreement, and even if it was there's no guarantee that it would apply in bankruptcy.

Re:how is this legal? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482166)

No, no it's much worse than that.

Corporations can't be killed. They can be consumed by another corporation but the bits and pieces (especially bits these days) never dies. New corporations feed off the rotting entrails of older ones but they grow up to be functionally all the same.

Much worse than a Zombie infection. Sort of like a rootkit. Reboot all you like, it's still there.

Re:how is this legal? (2)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482182)

I think the article mentions a "deceptive business practice" clause that could cover this kind of thing. The fact that the information was supplied to you for a specific purpose should bind you to only use it for that purpose. I know I'm being naive but it does seem a rather unethical thing to do. What if for example the courts decide to license out the info from Borders rather than just sell it to one company (or the buying company does it)? Say they see you bought books about animals and the next thing you know you have door to door gypsies showing up with trained circus monkeys :-)

Re:how is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482690)

Unethical yes, but what does ethics have to do with law?

Re:how is this legal? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482904)

A "deceptive business practice" clause that could cover this kind of thing.

Well, yeah, if there was anyone left to enforce it against. Which there isn't. Because the whole point of Chapter 7 is that tere's nothing left.

Re:how is this legal? (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483108)

But they are claiming there is something left when they try to sell it. Also if the court is controlling the bankruptcy sale they should be able to say this can be sold, that can't etc. My understanding is you file Chapter 7 but it is an ongoing process it isn't a one time "oh we are done" it is a long involved process potentially with the attempt to salvage the company, sell of parts, etc.

Re:how is this legal? (1)

chuckinator (2409512) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482316)

B&N has been on my no-buy list for a very long time after my experience with the university textbook market.

Re:how is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482954)

The best solution to most textbooks that I need is to import international editions. UPS from India beat FedEx from New Jersey, and was better wrapped. There maybe a variety of sites that help this type of market, but I use abebooks and only retailers in my country (US in this case). $140 book cost $28 (shipping included).

Re:how is this legal? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483030)

UPS from India beat FedEx from New Jersey, and was better wrapped.

Yeah, but with UPS they try to deliver it, you get home, find the card, go to the web site and tell them you'll collect it, but it's too late for them to take if off the truck so you can't collect it the next day, then the next day you go to their office wihch is only open two hours a day and queue up for half an hour and they tell you they forgot to take it off the truck so you'll have to come back again the next day.

I've often had UPS parcels take longer to cover the two miles from their depot to our house than they took to travel half way around the world to the depot. With Fedex I just stop by on the way to work the next day and collect it from them, because they're actually open at sensible times.

Re:how is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482618)

I tend to agree... Customer data ought to go away with the company. Or, at the very least, the buyer of such data ought to be required to ask the peopel represented by it if they want to opt out... But that isn't the way it is right now, so I suspect B&N has a legal standing here...

No Borders Rewards Card (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482010)

Now I'm glad I always turned down the Borders Rewards Card.

Re:No Borders Rewards Card (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482062)

If you hadn't turned it down, they would have had enough money to stay in business and this wouldn't be happening! Thanks a lot.

Re:No Borders Rewards Card (2, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482312)

Borders went out of business because they were too pushy with the Rewards Card. I just wish now that I had not turned it down so I would have standing to file a petition to enter the bankruptcy proceeding as a defrauded creditor.

Re:No Borders Rewards Card (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482944)

You do realize that you'd be at the bottom of the list and never get any attention, right?

Re:No Borders Rewards Card (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482354)

Now I'm glad I always turned down the Borders Rewards Card.

And paid cash.

Re:No Borders Rewards Card (1)

Existential Wombat (1701124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482858)

I have one, but since I always use mail redirection (my email address with them is borders@myowndomain.com for example), if I start getting spam it's a simple matter to delete that forward.

Times like this I am glad I do this!

The final clause in all privacy policies (3, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482016)

The final clause in all privacy policies are words to the effect, "this policy is subject to change at any time, with or without notice to you." Now we have an example of what that means.

I have always regarded that a license to defraud the consumer, as they can initially offer privacy terms that are acceptable, then collect your data, then revoke the privacy protections without giving you a chance to change or delete your data.

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482446)

this policy is subject to change at any time, with or without notice to you.

Borders' Privacy Policy [borders.com] is still available. It doesn't quite seem to say that.

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482888)

We reserve the right to update our Privacy Policy from time to time. When we do, we will post a notice on the Websites for a reasonable period of time after such changes are made that this Privacy Policy has been updated and we will revise the "Last Modified" date at the top of this Privacy Policy. We encourage you to check this page periodically for any updates. Your continued use of the Websites following the posting of updates to this Privacy Policy will mean you accept those updates.

Key terms:
"from time to time" == "whenever we feel it's necessary."
"post a notice [...] for a reasonable period of time after changes are made" == "for a day or two, unless we forget, in which case, well, you didn't check the modified date anyway, did you?"

In other words: "We will change this occasionally. Your notice that it's changed is that the Last Modified date has been updated, and we'll post a little blurb on the main site saying "We updated our privacty policy, check out the new version! Oh, and if you continue using the sites after the policy has been updated, you accept the terms of the update."

Net effect: "The policy is subject to change at any time, with a bare minimum of effort given to notifying you of the change."

And in plain terms: "This policy is subject to change whenever we want, we'll do whatever we feel we need to with your data with the wide latitude given to us by current legal standards, and you won't say a thing about it because you're too lazy to pay attention to these things."

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483046)

There are enough free CDN [wikipedia.org] sites out there that no one should let TOS, AUP, PP, etc. changes take them by surprise anymore.

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483212)

So if they change the policy to something I no longer find acceptable, I can demand they purge all my data, right? No? Then I fail to see how simply notifying me I've been screwed somehow makes it fair.

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482986)

this policy is subject to change at any time, with or without notice to you.

Borders' Privacy Policy [borders.com] is still available. It doesn't quite seem to say that.

Exactly.

Further, Borders provided an opt-out link on their page.

And their policy statement EXPLICITLY states (since at least 2008) that if they are sold, your info is among the assets that would be transferred.
B&N is doing nothing wrong here.

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482482)

I always referred to that as the "Bend it and Spread em clause".

That is why I never read those things anyways and assume the worst. They are always written to the point of "this is our product and a team of highly paid lawyers made sure that we are never exposed for anything and that all the shit will fall on you, the fucking lowly consumer. You don't like it, don't buy our fucking product or shop somewhere else."

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482512)

The final clause in all privacy policies are words to the effect, "this policy is subject to change at any time, with or without notice to you." Now we have an example of what that means.

I have always regarded that a license to defraud the consumer, as they can initially offer privacy terms that are acceptable, then collect your data, then revoke the privacy protections without giving you a chance to change or delete your data.

IANAL, but that is only there so they can update it via the website without specifically telling you what the changes are or that changes occurred. One reason for that is because it can be hard to track someone down when the only information may have changed - e.g. they moved or they got a different phone number, or a different e-mail address and (for any or all) they forgot to tell you about any of the changes. How then would you go about notifying them?

The issue here is that Bankruptcy courts have pretty much a free hand in manipulating agreements, canceling contracts, etc. So as far as the Bankruptcy court is concerned, the Privacy Policy doesn't exist.

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482844)

IANAL, but that is only there so they can update it via the website without specifically telling you what the changes are or that changes occurred.

That's what they want you to think, and they may have even meant it at the time. IANAL either, but since the clause does not specify the nature or extent of changes they make, it seems to me they can change it completely, even reversing the entire spirit of the thing, and all they have to do is "post" (read, bury) a notice on their Web site somewhere.

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482600)

Updates to this Policy

We reserve the right to update our Privacy Policy from time to time. When we do, we will post a notice on the Websites for a reasonable period of time after such changes are made that this Privacy Policy has been updated and we will revise the "Last Modified" date at the top of this Privacy Policy. We encourage you to check this page periodically for any updates. Your continued use of the Websites following the posting of updates to this Privacy Policy will mean you accept those updates.

[1] [borders.com]

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37483240)

I read that last part and cringe.

In effect it says, "We can change this at any time, and when we do the new version will be up on our website. By using our website, you agree to the new terms."

Weasle worded at best, as these things tend to be. If I dont agree to the changes, but cant verify changes without using the site, that use there of quantifies as acceptance of the terms...

Re:The final clause in all privacy policies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482686)

The final clause in all privacy policies are words to the effect, "this policy is subject to change at any time, with or without notice to you." Now we have an example of what that means.

And yet there are still people who give credence to Steam's verbal intent to unlock the games in the event of Valve's untimely demise.

Cases like this are proof that it's bullshit. If Valve ever goes down, the assets managed by Steam no longer belong to Valve, and the fate of your games is in the hands of whoever buys Steam in the resulting firesale. Somehow this is an acceptable compromise, even amongst people who proclaim not to believe in DRM.

bankruptcy creditors (4, Interesting)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482020)

This kind of decision would turn every (former) Border's customer into a potential creditor in the bankruptcy proceeding, since it becomes a cost and damage to that customer if the privacy terms already agreed to are changed. Imagine if even 1 person of Border's (former) customer were to file a petition with the bankruptcy court to enter as a creditor.

Re:bankruptcy creditors (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482090)

Oops, that should be 1 PERCENT of ...

Re:bankruptcy creditors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482292)

This doesn't make sense at all. How does your personal information disseminated to a third party qualify you as a creditor?

But go ahead and file a petition if you want. The bankruptcy judge honors the actual debt/bond holders first, employees second, third party contracts next, and shareholders/owners last. I seriously doubt you could qualify as any type of creditor, bond holder, debt collector, employee, shareholder or owner, and your information doesn't enter you into any implied contracts.

Re:bankruptcy creditors (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482712)

This kind of decision would turn every (former) Border's customer into a potential creditor in the bankruptcy proceeding, since it becomes a cost and damage to that customer if the privacy terms already agreed to are changed. Imagine if even 1 [percent] person of Border's (former) customer were to file a petition with the bankruptcy court to enter as a creditor.

Even if this, shall we say novel, concept of counting you as a creditor based on some implied contract in the privacy terms actually flew with the court (I doubt it, but I'm humoring you) the whole point of bankruptcy is that the debtor cannot honor all its creditors going forward. That's what it means to be asset-insolvent -- you owe creditors more than you are worth and so many of them, by necessity, don't get the obligations honored.

Since, even in your theory, you took an un-secured (no-collateral was offered to back up the implied privacy contract) credit interest in Border's, meaning that everyone with a secured (bonded) debt gets in line in front of you and you never get paid. That's how bankruptcy works, after all, the creditors line up in order and they take until there's nothing left.

IOW, not only do you have to convince a court of the unprecedented concept of a debt in the form of a privacy obligation, you have to convince the court that you should be paid in front of other, secured, creditors. The former is already far-fetched, the combination is patently absurd.

TLDR version: Even if B&N "owed" you something they are in no position to pay what they owe anyways so you are going to get the shaft will all the other unsecured creditors that lent them money and are not going to see any of it back.

Re:bankruptcy creditors (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482876)

Imagine if even 1 person of Border's (former) customer were to file a petition with the bankruptcy court to enter as a creditor.

The court would come back with "Go away - your information might be worth about $10 to you, while these other creditors are owed millions."

That's awesome! (4, Informative)

Ardeaem (625311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482026)

So, if I buy a harddrive from someone, and it has some software installed on it, that means that I can do whatever I want with it because I didn't agree to the ToS! Right...?

Re:That's awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482064)

No, you can access the information, you can't do anything you want with it.

Re:That's awesome! (1)

Echoota (443306) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482274)

you can't do anything you want with it.

I think B&N is asserting the opposite of that, which
is Ardeaem's point.

Re:That's awesome! (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482342)

I think B&N is asserting the opposite of that, which
is Ardeaem's point.

Nope. If Borders bought a hard drive before they went bust, then that would be their property to be auctioned off. Similarly, the data Borders had about you is their property, which is to be auctioned off.

People are acting as though the data Borders collected belongs to them, rather than the company.

Hopefully this may help a few people realise the perils of letting random companies collect data about them.

Re:That's awesome! (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483226)

If Borders had saved all customer's credit card numbers, the buyer of that hard drive isn't obligated by certain rules about what they can do with the information?

Re:That's awesome! (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482168)

Along the lines of corporations are people. If someone has private pictures of you on their computer, and has promised never to show them to anyone else, but they die and someone buys their computer at an estate sale, you're sort of SOL.

Re:That's awesome! (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482588)

So, if I buy a harddrive from someone, and it has some software installed on it, that means that I can do whatever I want with it because I didn't agree to the ToS! Right...?

Someone should distribute the information for the entire management-level people at B&N. Phone, address, list of children, VISA numbers ... And, then of course, anybody with that information would say that they couldn't possibly be bound by any terms of use because they never made any agreement.

That might demonstrate to these people why customers do not want their information to be bought and sold.

In Canada, I believe this would be illegal, because we actually have privacy legislation designed to limit what companies can do with your information.

Sadly, I just can't see the US passing a law which would actually restrict what a corporation can do -- the lawmakers are too beholden to corporate interests.

R.I.P. Borders (0)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482106)

I liked Borders so much better than BN. BN is fine if you want current Best Sellers on the cheap, but if interested in more of the off-the-wall stuff, the coupons the free Border's membership offered (BN offers no free membership) were a far better deal.
It's a troubling sign of the times, I don't like seeing brick 'n' mortar book stores going belly up, I loved to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoons looking around.

Re:R.I.P. Borders (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482204)

It's a troubling sign of the times, I don't like seeing brick 'n' mortar book stores going belly up, I loved to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoons looking around.

An easy problem to solve.
1) Download several of these [google.com]
2) Set one of those photos as your computer's desktop image
3) Glance at your desktop background occasionally while you do your shopping at Amazon.com [amazon.com]

Bu...bu...bu...whaddabout da books? (1)

supaneko (1019638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482370)

Believe it or not, some of us actually prefer the feel, texture, and overall appearance of a BOOK. eBooks are nice and all but even when they're printed, they're no where near the same.

I will admit: seeing all these Bargain Book stores around Ann Arbor and Lansing, MI selling Borders property for $.25 a piece really has quadrupled my book collection. I may die before I ever get a chance to read all of them. :)

Re:Bu...bu...bu...whaddabout da books? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482632)

er... so, what are some good bargain book stores in the Lansing area? It seems like most of the ones I knew about are gone now.

(Oh, and it's interesting to see someone else on Slashdot from the Lansing area.)

Re:Bu...bu...bu...whaddabout da books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482652)

So you admit to helping kill the print industry by holding out until you get to eat off the corpse of the dead stores?

Re:Bu...bu...bu...whaddabout da books? (1)

rabidmuskrat (1070962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482700)

Believe it or not, some of us actually prefer the feel, texture, and overall appearance of a BOOK. eBooks are nice and all but even when they're printed, they're no where near the same. I will admit: seeing all these Bargain Book stores around Ann Arbor and Lansing, MI selling Borders property for $.25 a piece really has quadrupled my book collection. I may die before I ever get a chance to read all of them. :)

It's a shame Amazon doesn't sell physical books then. Oh wait... http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books [amazon.com]

Re:Bu...bu...bu...whaddabout da books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482866)

Awesome. Let's go hang out in their warehouse. The ambiance of that "cardboard box" smell has a certain ...je ne c'est quoi, that the stock room in the back of a Border's could never quite satisfy.

inb4: Starbucks (too snooty)

Re:Bu...bu...bu...whaddabout da books? (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483204)

Amazon sells both books and eBooks.

Re:R.I.P. Borders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482254)

It's a troubling sign of the times, I don't like seeing brick 'n' mortar book stores going belly up, I loved to spend a few hours on Saturday afternoons looking around.

If people like you actually BOUGHT stuff instead of just looking around, they wouldn't go "belly up" would they?

Re:R.I.P. Borders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482348)

You should have spent those few hours making some purchases, too. Maybe then, Borders would still be in business and you'd have a place to sit around looking hip, frowning through your black-rimmed glasses at a book of obscure poetry whilst sipping your skinny half-caf mocha chai soy latte with artisanal fair trade sugar.

You want a place with books to hang out and browse, go to a fucking library. This trend of candy ass hipsters turning a bookstore into a goddamned youth hostel is obnoxious. Your patchouli and flannel stink up the place when people with real jobs are trying to find the book they want, make a purchase, and get on with their business.

And for fucks' sake, lose the dreadlocks - you're a white middle class suburban kid, not Bob Marley. You look ridiculous.

I mean - Yeah, you're right, I'm totally gonna miss brick 'n mortar bookstores, too.

Re:R.I.P. Borders (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482762)

Damn, wish I had mod points. This made me chuckle.

Re:R.I.P. Borders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482460)

Yeah, right. B&N bent over backwards to get me an out-of-print book. I never have a problem finding what I want online, and usually those online books are in the store too - and if they're not, they'll get them for you or tell you a store where you can get them

Their membership is $25 and you get 10% off (plus more on some items) and I am constantly getting 10-30% off coupons in email, most of which can be used *twice* once online and once in store. I have the B&N mastercard which gets me 5% back on purchases at B&N in addition to also including the membership. Oh, and when I use it elsewhere I get 1% back in the form of B&N giftcards. Borders offered *nothing* like that for people who actually purchase books.

Not have to comply? (2)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482188)

Not have to comply? They should be legally bind to it.

Re:Not have to comply? (2)

silas_moeckel (234313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482314)

It's bankruptcy, judges can get rid of contract classes as they see fit. Want it fixed you need a federal law (or patchwork of state laws) precluding the sale, lease or otherwise transfer of all personally identifying information without the consent of that person at the time of transfer (aka no fine print you allow this forever BS). Might want to tack on a company must expunge that same info opon request, or after n years of inactivity.

Sue Them Anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482234)

Class action suit, with some shitty no-name firm representing.

Damn the legalities. Fuck it. I'll chip in a small amount for that. Waste their time and money too. Civil lawsuits are essentially silly and frivolous but definition. Why not?

So you get laughed out of court, anything to inflict misery of even one court date on those who would make us miserable.

This is why I don't sign up for things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482290)

I am a human being, not a monetized datapoint.

I wouldn't mind it for me, but I object anyway (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482334)

If B&N made this an optional thing for consumers, I'd be okay with it. "Were you a Borders Rewards user? Like to have your personal preferences and history transferred over to our B&N card? Just let us know, and as a transferring bonus, we'll give you an extra 10% off any one item." Yeah, I might sign up if it was presented to me as a choice.

Re:I wouldn't mind it for me, but I object anyway (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482658)

But that's bad business. Giving away a 10% discount when you can just take with no further consideration than the actual bankruptcy purchase price of the IP and the small cost of lawyers to persuasively make your case to the bankruptcy court? Completely unnecessary.

You're paying the lawyers anyway, and you'd have to buy the IP to even have the chance to ask every Joe Bagodonuts "Mother may I", so you might as well just do it and save yourself some money. Even if you have to retain a few lawyers to fend off the trivial number of lawsuits from butt-hurt former Borders customers who think they have some say in the matter, it's a lot cheaper than playing nice.

Lets face it, nice guys finish last. Bad guys who get caught and punished still usually come out ahead of the nice guys.

Oh, right, "ethics." They've heard of them.

From the privacy policy (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482534)

You have to scroll way down to find this, but this is part of the Borders privacy policy:

Disclosures in connection with acquisitions or divestitures.
Circumstances may arise where for strategic or other business reasons Borders decides to sell, buy, merge or otherwise reorganize its own or other businesses. Such a transaction may involve the disclosure of personal and other information to prospective or actual purchasers, or receiving it from sellers. It is Borders' practice to seek appropriate protection for information in these types of transactions. In the event that Borders or all of its assets are acquired in such a transaction, customer information would be one of the transferred assets.

what this really could mean. (4, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482570)

If the company buying the data at auction is not held to the same privacy standards as the original, this means that shell companies can be formed to gather information under strict nondisclosure, then intentionally fold and provide the information without restriction and in violation of the original disclosure agreement.

Re:what this really could mean. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482718)

If the company buying the data at auction is not held to the same privacy standards as the original, this means that shell companies can be formed to gather information under strict nondisclosure, then intentionally fold and provide the information without restriction and in violation of the original disclosure agreement.

And, uh, why were you handing personal information to fly-by-night shell companies?

Re:what this really could mean. (1)

Esgaroth (515377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482868)

Facebook? When it first started, by many accounts sounded a lot like a fly by night company and people were giving them all kinds of personal information.

Re:what this really could mean. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482980)

Facebook? When it first started, by many accounts sounded a lot like a fly by night company and people were giving them all kinds of personal information.

Yeah, and? A lot of them probably regret it t.

Even today I don't give them any information that I wouldn't want to see plastered all over the Internet.

Re:what this really could mean. (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483270)

And when big-box retailers form subsidiaries to manage all that precious data, and those subsidiaries mysteriously get mismanaged to the point they get reorganized regularly, voiding all privacy promises each time, where will you shop? If B&N gets away with it, I expect Wal-Mart and Best Buy to quickly farm out all customer data collection to a "separate" company, i.e. "Wal-Mart Consumer Interaction Contractor" and "Best Buy Communications, Inc."

Re:what this really could mean. (1)

Sentrion (964745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483306)

IANAL, but that depends on "how" the company folds and to whom the information is disclosed to. If the board of directors of Company A want to dissolve the corporation, they cannot sell or give away the information without violating the agreement. They can choose to sell the corporation to Company B, but as the new owner, Company B now has ownership not only of Company A's assets, but also their liabilities (in this case, the non-disclosure agreement). So if Company B sells or gives away the information then they will be violating the agreement.

Bankruptcy changes up the game, and probably why B&N decided to wait for Borders to go into bankruptcy rather than buy them out. Bankruptcy wipes out many liabilities, including debts, contracts, even prepaid orders and gift certificates. So if Company A is driven into insolvency by poor management or bad luck, all of the agreements and contracts can simply disappear. The assets that remain are typically sold at auction by the bankruptcy trustee who's job it is to collect and preserve any remaining assets and distribute the proceeds of the auction to the creditors. The information gathered from customers is an asset of Company A that can be auctioned off.

So, if I really wanted to protect the information I shared with another entity (human or corporation), then I would make sure that the NDA included a bankruptcy clause, such as
    "...Further, the obligation not to disclose shall not be affected by bankruptcy, receivership, assignment, attachment or seizure procedures, whether initiated by or against Recipient, nor by the rejection of any agreement between Owner and Recipient, by a trustee of Recipient in bankruptcy, or by the Recipient as a debtor-in-possession or the equivalent of any of the foregoing under local law..."

Even better would be an agreement to destroy records after a certain period of time, unless the records had to be retained to comply with specific government regulations. If I really cared about keeping the information private then I would consult a competent attorney to draft the NDA.

Doesn't bother me (1)

danbuter (2019760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482648)

Honestly, I don't care if Borders gives my purchase history to B&N. That should be the only thing they get, though. I shopped at both stores. It would be great if B&N would use this data to send me coupons for science fiction books!

"This feature is temporarily unavailable." (2)

whovian (107062) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482732)

Just tried to poison my account info. The response was "We're sorry. This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later." It may be too late :/

flooz again (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482734)

anyone remember Flooz? they did the same thing. and since people used it as a purchase buffer, i imagine t had juicier purchase history info.

Prepare for spam. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482792)

Happened before, will happen again, as long as _your_ information is a saleable asset.

I bought some VERY well-priced items on a website going out of business sale. Got great deals on them. They got my e-mail address. At least, they think they did -- they got store.10.username@spamgourmet.com. A couple weeks later, that address started receiving spam, and it does until this day.

Small stores, large stores, data breaches, in _every_ case, you're going to get spam in the end. The only viable solution that I can see is using a _unique_ disposable address for every single contact.

My work e-mail never received spam... until _one_ person added me on Linked In. Now I get viagra spam, penile enlargement spam, ...

Yawn - read the actual article, folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482832)

As usual, /. makes the situation sound far more heinous and inflammatory than the actual article suggests. B&N just wants to handle the Borders data under the same privacy policies it uses for the similar information it keeps on its own customers, rather than maintain a separate set of rules for "Borders" data. I'd be surprised if the two companies had policies that were markedly different. (For that matter, I bet the data itself overlaps to a great extent - many of the Borders customers are also Barnes and Noble customers).

Jesus, how many times (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37482874)

... do I have to hear Stallman Was Right [stallman.org] before I should just a tattoo on my forehead?

Unfortunately, ample precedent... (3, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#37482906)

This became a well-settled area of law when lawsuits by Scientology drove the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy. The Scientologists were able to get a hold of CAN's confidential files in the BK, despite strenuous objections by many parties.

If those files can't be protected, I don't see your book purchasing habits at Borders being particularly sarconsact.

Even the chocolate balls... (1)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483090)

sold at the counter? They know how much I love them now?
I promised I'd never let Barnes and Noble know how much I love those chocolate balls. That was between me and Borders!

  I feel so violated.

stay off the grid with cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37483140)

glad i always paid cash when I was buying issues of 2600 magazine.

Aren't there laws (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37483280)

Aren't there laws or court rulings in the USA regarding people's library and video rental history privacy? Hopefully those extend to book and magazine-buying as well...
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