Federal Appeals Court Sides With Best Buy On Privacy Issue

A federal appeals court has tossed out a 2-year-old attempted class-action lawsuit against Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), siding with the chain when it had swiped shoppers' driver's licenses when they returned purchases. That's a practice that others—including Walmart—have engaged in for years.

The original lawsuit—filed in Florida by a shopper named Steve Siegler—said that the consumer's privacy had been violated. The 11th Circuit appellate court backed up a Florida federal court, which had ruled that the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act doesn't apply to information supplied by a customer, reported a story in the Star-Tribune. The law forbids state motor vehicles employees from knowingly disclosing personal information contained in state motor vehicle records.

"We're not commenting on the ruling and will let the court documents speak for themselves," Paula Baldwin, a Best Buy spokesperson, told the paper.

The original incident apparently happened back in October 2011. Siegler returned a computer mouse to a Florida Best Buy store and, after a clerk swiped the magnetic strip on his driver's license, Siegler asked a manager to delete the information, the story said. The lawsuit said that Best Buy refused on the grounds that its return policy warned that driver's license information might be collected. Siegler's lawsuit maintained that the warning was printed on the back of his sales receipt, which he received only after buying the product.

Mobile transactions only up the ante in these privacy debates. But they do provide a more easily identifiable product to track that a customer is not repeatedly turning products or, much worse, returning stolen products anonymously. They can still return the products, but it starts to whittle away at the anonymous part.

For more:

- See the Star-Tribune story

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