Small Business & Startups

Is It Legal For Dick Smith To Sell Its Customer Data?

The closure of Dick Smith Electronics will be the stuff of case studies in years to come. From hobbyist’s playground to consumer electronics flop it has amassed a large database of customers over the years. But can the receivers sell that data as part of the company fire sale?

Under the Australian Privacy Act of 1992, there are two conditions that have to be met in order for customer data to be sold.

  • The seller has the consent of the individuals whose data is being sold prior to the completion of the sale
  • The sale of the customer database is authorised/required by law

According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, those provisions of the Privacy Act don’t apply if the business is changing ownership. However, in the case of Dick Smith, there’s no ownership change. The receivers see the customer database as an asset, just like all the TV, computers and other gizmos they are selling.

So, in short, Ferrier Hodgson, Dick SMith’s receivers, are within their legal rights to sell customer data as long as they comply with the law and get the consent of each person in the customer database.

That means customers will be getting a communication from the receiver asking for explicit permission to include their data in the sale. If you were a Dick Smith customer, keep an eye out for that email and make sure you respond accordingly.

[OAIC guidelines for selling customer data]

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.

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