Court Nixes ZIP Code Queries

The California Supreme Court ruled Feb. 10 that requesting a customer’s ZIP code violates privacy laws. California resident Jessica Pineda filed Pineda v. Williams-Sonoma Stores in 2008 after buying an item at Williams-Sonoma and providing her ZIP code at the cashier’s request. According to the court, the store subsequently used software to match the plaintiff’s name with her unpublished address, creating a database later used to market products and sold to other businesses. The court concluded that ZIP codes constitute “personal identification information” and noted the state’s Song–Beverly Credit Card Act forbids inquiring about such information.

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