Before you could purchase spare USB cables and A/V equipment with a click of a button, there was Radio Shack. I think I've personally been to at least ten different Radio Shacks in my life, and that's a conservative estimate; they've all been deeply depressing, unfriendly spaces of mundanity, which is I suppose a reasonable quality attributed to a place known for keeping copper wire and shitty remote-controlled helicopters in equal supply. I hate Radio Shack, and so do you — and now that they've filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they want to hate you right back by selling your personal data.
According to The Guardian, Radio Shack is looking to unload "67 million customer name and physical mailing address files together with any associated transaction data collected by the Debtors within the five (5) year period prior [to bankruptcy]" to the hedge fund Standard General LP, which already succeeded in purchasing the brand's actual name for $26 million last week. A lot of the data for sale was accrued, ironically, through customers signing up for warranties—so, yes, something that you signed up for to protect your purchases is now going to come back and bite you in the ass.
This is disturbing precisely because of how surprising the source is. It's become so commonplace to give information as basic as addresses — email or physical—to companies in exchange for goods, and as the world becomes more technologically connected our email addresses contain an increasing amount of links to other, more damaging personal information. (Even if you aren't stupid enough to, say, put your social security number or bank account information into an email, someone else undoubtedly has been.) Society has become so distracted by modern-day threats to data leaks—from NSA to the almighty cloud — that it's easy to be blindsided by an old-guard establishment like Radio Shack taking the more traditional route of selling your personal info to the highest bidder. Even if a rattlesnake is dressed up in tattered clothes, it can still kill you.
So: how much should you worry about this? Well, there are already measures in place to stop, or at least slow down, Radio Shack's actions here: Apple and AT&T (two companies who you'd typically expect on the offensive end of playing fast and loose with customer data) have joined in filing a motion to stop the potential sale, and the FTC are attempting to broker a compromise that would heavily restrict how, specifically, Radio Shack is selling the data. With any matter involving corporations, though, the overall fear is as apparent as ever: imagine what they're doing with your information that you'll