A class action lawsuit against Sears Holdings Corp. filed last week illustrates how far the plaintiff's bar is willing to go to extend the frontier of tort liability for the alleged breach of consumer privacy rights. See Computerworld article
The lawsuit challenges the availability of Sears' customers' purchasing history on its Managemyhome.com website. Besides providing Sears shoppers with the ability to download manuals, find product tips and get home-renovation ideas, it also let customers track purchases and product warranties by entering their name, address and phone number. Since it was not password-protected, anyone could enter any other name and address and obtain others' information as well. The "Find your Products" section of the site has been disabled in the wake of public criticism and the filing of the lawsuit.
At a minimum, the Sears lawsuit should serve as a wake-up call to other companies that a cavalier attitude to consumer privacy will no longer be tolerated by the public.