No privacy at the Apple Store

By Steve Outing

I did a little holiday shopping at the local (Boulder) Apple Store tonight, and was surprised when it came to getting the receipt for my purchase. The sales guy offered to e-mail me my receipt. That’s great, actually, because paper receipts get lost, whereas if I need to take back my purchase in the days ahead, I’ll be able to easily find my receipt in my Gmail archive. I wish more stores would get with the program and offer this.

But that wasn’t what surprised me. No, it was the fact that by doing nothing more than swiping my Mastercard, the sales rep was able to pull up my e-mail address. (Well, actually, it was — oddly — my daughter’s e-mail. How that got connected to my credit card account I do not understand. For most people, Apple will probably pull up the correct address.) And no, the credit card wasn’t an Apple-branded Mastercard.

So that means that Apple is able to find information about us simply by swiping a credit card. While I like the convenience of this, I nevertheless feel like I’ve lost some privacy. Shouldn’t I be the one to decide if Apple gets my e-mail address?

Again, if I’d handed the guy an Apple credit card, that’s one thing; I’d expect them to have my Apple account information. But a non-affiliated credit card gets Apple my data? That makes me uncomfortable. What do you think?

UPDATE: Ah, yes, jumped the gun … blogged before thinking this through. As commenters noted, Apple simply recognized the credit card number from previous purchases and pulled the e-mail address from its own database, most likely. Perhaps the lesson is that consumers can have knee-jerk reactions to these sorts of things, where they perceive a privacy invasion. :)

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!