California lawmaker introduces bill to provide more privacy for online purchases

by Nanette Miranda, ABC7/KGO

When you buy something with a credit card at a store in California, workers are not allowed to ask you for your personal information like a home address, phone number or email, it’s spelled out in a law called the Song-Beverly Act.

But the California Supreme Court earlier this month sided with Apple, saying those consumer protections don’t apply to downloadable products like iTunes songs and videos.

"It throws out all privacy protections for people doing online purchases for downloads," Consumer Federation of California Richard Holober said. "And we think the next step will be for any online commerce."

Assem. Roger Dickinson is trying to fix that with a bill that would extend current privacy protections to online stores, but still allow companies to be able to detect credit card fraud.

That means getting rid of a customer’s information shortly after the purchase.

"They can’t aggregate that with other bits of information to develop all sorts of profiling about you as a consumer, your habits," Holober said.

Online retailers are already concerned. Many companies based outside California feel state lawmakers have no jurisdiction.

Plus, the measure spoils one of the conveniences of cyber shopping if customer information can’t be kept.

"Consumers often times opt in and allow their information to be stored by the retailers so that when they return again for another purchase … retailer knows who they are," Online Performance Marketing’s Rebecca Madigan said. "That’s a great experience for an online shopper."

Many iTunes customers said they look forward to more privacy.

"It actually kind of worries me," iTunes Customer Shawna Pierce said. "It might be dangerous to give out more personal information than you have to," iTunes Customer Shawna Pierce said.

"We shouldn’t have any type of retailer or any type of business saying we can take your information and do what we’d like," iTunes Customer Aaron Sanderlin said.

In court documents, Apple never said why it needed personal information and what it did with it. Similar privacy cases are pending against eHarmony and Ticketmaster.