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Stupid State Watch: CA's ZIP Code Assault Continues

9/13/11

By Ken Magill

In the latest example showing that California is to legislative idiocy what Saudi Arabia is to oil, the fiscal-train-wreck state is about to pass a law aimed at protecting gas stations from being sued by class-action parasites for requiring people’s ZIP codes in at-the-pump credit card transactions.

Why is that stupid? Because it doesn’t protect anyone else and, as a result, dozens of despicable class-action shakedowns still stand.

Last February, the barnyard idiots on California’s Supreme Court ruled that ZIP codes are personally identifiable information and, therefore, illegal to collect under the Song Beverly Credit Card Act.

The ruling was the result of a lawsuit against San Francisco-based Williams-Sonoma.

In 2008, Jessica Pineda visited a Williams-Sonoma store in California. While making her purchase, the cashier reportedly asked for her ZIP code but did not tell her what the information would be used for.

Thinking the information was necessary to complete the transaction, Pineda provided it. Later, Williams-Sonoma conducted a ‘reverse lookup’ and was able to get Pineda’s mailing address by matching her name and ZIP code in a third-party database.

Williams-Sonoma then reportedly sent Pineda some direct mail.

Apparently feeling indignant over some unwanted mail, Pineda filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that the store violated the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act.

Got that? She sued because Williams-Sonoma used her ZIP code to get her address and send her commercial mail.

In an act of breathtaking idiocy, when California’s State Supreme Court ruled against Williams-Sonoma and ruled ZIP codes are personally identifiable information, it made the ruling retroactive.

That bit of drool-bucket stupidity put companies who had thought they were acting within the law before the Williams-Sonoma debacle in class-action parasites’ crosshairs.

Predictably, dozens of leeches slithered out of California’s privacy swamps to launch suits of their own.

The Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971 was originally passed to protect consumers from dumpster-diving thieves looking for carbon copies of credit-card slips that often contained credit card numbers. But California’s privacy whackos have twisted its original intent beyond a reasonable consumer-protection effort and into a brazen attack on marketing.

The law protecting gas stations from these idiots recognizes ZIP codes are used at the pumps to protect against fraudulent transactions. It originally was crafted to protect a bunch of other businesses, but California’s shrieking anti-capitalist privacy nuts objected, saying it was too broad.

As a result, only California’s gas stations get to escape its privacy zealots’ ZIP-code lunacy.

Way to go, California. Your ongoing economic self-mutilation is a wonder to behold.

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