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Calif. Supreme Court Says No Storing Zip Codes

| February 10, 2011
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(Credit: Flickr/kentb)

You’re at the checkout counter with your credit card in hand when the cashier asks for your zip code. You may think the question is leading to a new American Apparel/Whole Foods/John Campbell’s Irish Bakery in your neighborhood. That may be, but Williams Sonoma was also building a reverse search database. You know, so the San Francisco-based retailer can figure out where you live….presumably to give you a new reason to update your opt-out profile with Catalog Choice.

Tracking zip codes like that violates the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971 (Civ. Code, ยง 1747 et seq.), according to the state Supreme Court.

Today’s 17 page ruling overturns an appellate court’s 2008 ruling to the contrary. The Supreme Court justices determined unanimously that Williams-Sonoma offered no reason that would justify “departing” from the “statute’s plain language, protective purpose and legislative history.”

This just in: Google Weddings. I like the Caribbean theme, but isn’t Google totally capable of reverse searching what computer I’m browsing on? Isn’t Williams-Sonoma as well?

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Category: Business and Finance, Courts, Economics, Government, Law Enforcement, News, Tech

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About the Author ()

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness. Reach Rachael Myrow at rmyrow@kqed.org.

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