Data Privacy Issues Aren’t Restricted to Google, Facebook and Twitter

As part of the liquidation of the Bon Ton Department stores…now that the physical inventory has been sold off and the stores closed…an Indiana company has purchased the names and trademarks and databases from the liquidator.

And part of the databases is information on millions of Americans…and that data can now be bought and sold to other merchants and marketers ad infinitum! For instance:

…beauty products company L’Oreal USA Inc. successfully bid $312,900 for data on customers who went to Bon-Ton stores for cosmetics, fragrances and other items.

Bought some cosmetics from one of the Bon Ton family of stores…expect to hear from L’Oreal pretty soon!

There has been considerable hand wringing over the past two or three years about the personal data that the big social media sites keep on their user base and how they monetize that without your direct knowledge. And how Europe has put some limits on it and continue to review their operations. But our government just keeps having hearings and barely asks any pointed questions…and no actual laws or regulations see the light of day. But we are really only thinking about the big guys, you know, like Google and Facebook and Twitter.

But here we have a relative small company…somewhere in the $2 – 3 billion a year in revenues. Small local style department stores with historic regional names that we came to know and love and trust. You know, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Younkers, Bergners, etc. But boy do they have stuff on you!!!

According to Thursday’s court filing, the Bon-Ton database contains approximately 24.5 million unique customer records with full name and mailing addresses. It has about 5.6 million email addresses.

And probably a lot more than that. Like what you bought, your buying habits, how often you shopped, etc. All pretty valuable stuff to other marketers yet pretty personal stuff if you look at it.

I got daily and twice daily and sometimes thrice daily emails as they were going through their death throes the past 4 or 5 months. It will be interesting to see what the future holds…

But consider this…every retailer big or small…has similar troves of personal data on their customer base. Info that is valuable to them and others (keep in mind the sturm and drang around the various data hacks at big retailers).

It’s time we take personal data held by big companies seriously in this country…really.

Anyway, if you did business with Bon Ton or any of its predecessor companies and want to feel better, you consider this:

The court filing, in which CSC Generation is described as a “decentralized, multi-brand technology platform,” said if CSC acquired the Bon-Ton brand, nameplates and personal information, it intended to apply privacy policy standards identical to those it uses for DirectBuy (one of their current companies – whatever it is).


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