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US marketers forced to adapt data collection methods

Rachel Wheeler

April 11, 2011

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Marketing professionals in the US are being forced to alter their data collection strategies following a recent ruling from the California Supreme Court.

The ruling that online retailer Williams-Sonoma can no longer collect ZIP codes during credit card transactions has sparked concerns among other firms that it will impact their data collection methods.

"We're shocked - we never expected a ruling that ZIP codes were personal information," Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, told DM News.

The highest court in California ruled in favor of a plaintiff, who filed a suit which claimed that Williams-Sonoma used customer ZIP codes to find home addresses, market to consumers and then sold that data to other businesses.

According to the decision, the firm violated the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971, which prohibits retailers from gathering customers' personal identification information during a credit card transaction.

Since the ruling, more than 100 similar class action suits have been filed against dozens of other retailers

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