Are Email Addresses Personal Identification Information?

GMAILA new class action lawsuit, against Express Fashion Apparel, LLC, asks a federal court to rule that email addresses are personal identification information, and as such, retailers should be prohibited from requesting and subsequently using the email addresses together with additional information gathered from the credit card. California Civil Code §1747.08 prohibits any corporation that accepts credit cards for the transaction of business from requesting the cardholder to provide personal identification information, which the corporation then records in conjunction with a credit card transaction.

According to the lawsuit, the store's employees requested the email addresses, along with phone numbers, without explaining the intended use of the information, nor disclosing the consequences of refusing to give the information to the store employee. After the customer disclosed his email address, the store then began emailing the customer marketing materials using the customer's name collected from the credit card.

In 2011, the California Supreme Court ruled against Williams-Sonoma saying that zip codes are personal identification information which cannot be required to complete a credit card transaction.

The case is Staveley v. Express Fashion Apparel, LLC, 14-CV-05258, in the Central District of California. The case was filed on July 7, 2014.

See Also:
Revisiting Data Collection Requirements in New Jersey
Massachusetts Next State to Prohibit Stores from Asking for Zip Codes
HP Survives Class Action Certification Appeal