New bill may protect online credit card information

February 22, 2013 7:36:01 PM PST
If you're not concerned about keeping your personal information private when you shop online, you should be. There are actually vey few rules about how much information online stores can demand from you when you make a purchase.

Consumer groups are rushing to fix a California Supreme Court ruling that said your privacy protections are not as strong when you shop online as they are when you shop at a store.

When you buy something with a credit card at a store in California, workers are not allowed to ask you for your personal information like a home address, phone number or email. It's spelled out in a law called the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. But the state Supreme Court earlier this month sided with Apple, saying those consumer protections don't apply to downloadable products like iTunes songs and videos.

"It throws out all privacy protections for people doing online purchases for downloads and we think the next step will be for any online commerce," Consumer Federation of California spokesperson Richard Holober said.

Assm. Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, is trying to fix that with a bill that would extend current privacy protections to online stores, but still allow companies to be able to detect credit card fraud. That means getting rid of a customer's information shortly after the purchase.

"They can't aggregate that with other bits of information to develop all sorts of profiling about you as a consumer, your habits," Holober said.

Online retailers are already concerned that many companies are based outside California and feel state lawmakers have no jurisdiction. Plus, the measure spoils one of the conveniences of online shopping if customer information can't be kept. "Consumers often times opt in and allow their information to be stored by the retailers, so that when they return again for another purchase the retailer knows who they are. That's a great experience for an online shopper," Performance Marketing Association spokesperson Rebecca Madigan said.

Many iTunes customers told ABC7 News that they look forward to more privacy. "It actually kind of worries me. It might be dangerous to give out more personal information than you have to," Shawna Pierce said.

"We shouldn't have any type of retailer or any type of business saying we can take your information and do what we'd like," Aaron Sanderlin said.

In court documents, consumer groups say Apple never said why it needed personal information and what it did with it. Similar privacy cases are pending against eHarmony and Ticketmaster.

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