TYLER V. MICHAEL STORES, INC.
Issue: Data Privacy
Court: Supreme Court of Massachusetts
I. Under Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 93, section 105(a), may a zip code number be "personal identification information" because a zip code number could be necessary to the credit card issuer to identify the card holder in order to complete the transaction?
II. Under Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 93, section 105(a), may a plaintiff bring an action for this privacy violation absent identity fraud?
III. Under Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 93, section 105(a), may the words "credit card transaction form" refer equally to an electronic or a paper transaction form?
The RLC asked the Supreme Court of Massachusetts to clearly state that a zip code alone is not "personal information" within the meaning of a state identity theft law because it describes a broad geographical area and cannot identify a specific individual. Retailers commonly collect such information for bona fide business reasons that do not jeopardize consumer privacy.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that collecting a consumer's zip code at the point of sale could violate a Massachusetts consumer protection statute. The court also determined that zip codes are "personal identification information" within the meaning of the statue, which applied to the collection and recordation of PII on both electronic and paper credit card transactions.
Procedural History and Case Documents:
- Oral argument November 2012
- Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts' Decision March 2013