How many people a day do you suppose go into a mega-electronics store like Circuit City and purchase a new computer? And how many of those people do you suppose have the store like Circuit City transfer their personal data from their old computer to their new computer for them? How many of you have done that? And if you have, did you end up wishing you hadn’t?
That’s certainly how “Susan”, whose real identity is being withheld, of Boulder, Colorado feels. Susan purchased a new computer from the Boulder Circuit City, and brought in her old computer to have Circuit City transfer things from old computer to new.
Which they did.
But not before first transferring all of her data, including some very personal information, correspondence, and pictures, onto another computer in the store – a floor model.
Which was sold.
And how did Susan find out? When she got a telephone call from the man who had purchased the computer. Says Susan of that telephone call, “That evening I got a call from a strange man that I do not know who told me he purchased a desktop floor model computer which contained all of my personal information.” According to reports, the man knew her name, what she looked like, where she worked, and even how much she made. Susan explained “Let’s just say I had many years of private writings, papers, personal information, pictures,” adding “I can’t even express the deep violation that I feel.”
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Apparently she eventually found the words to express it, in the lawsuit which she has recently filed against Circuit City.
According to Susan’s lawyer, Howard Bernstein, Circuit City’s argument is that “it’s not really your personal computer or you can’t treat it as your personal computer if you bring it into our store. There is no expectation of privacy.”
And while since the lawsuit has been filed employees at the Boulder Circuit City now have been overheard saying “We don’t download anything onto our computers whatsoever because it’s a liability for you and it’s also a liability for us”, in its response to the lawsuit Circuit City claimed that they had “no contractual duty” to guard Susan’s privacy “because the transfer was done at no charge and with no promises to protect her privacy.”
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Let’s see what the judge has to say about this one.
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