Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/24/2008
07:18 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

Target's (The Retailer) Swipe At Privacy

Why don't retailers care more about how they handle your personal information?

Why don't retailers care more about how they handle your personal information?Last Friday, I'm running down a deadline and one of my personal mini-nightmares came true: I realized my stash of Nicorette gum is empty. While I managed to quit smoking about 10 months ago, I've yet to wean myself off the gum that's helped me to get here. An immediate replenishment was in order.

So I dash to my closest Nicorette dealer, which happens to be a Target just about a quarter mile from my town home. I happily find the cinnamon-flavored gum I prefer, and head to the register.

Now, during checkout, the cashier asks to "see" my driver's license. Alright, since I've been carded before buying controlled substances, I figure she needs to check my age.

Before I have a chance to realize exactly what's going on, the cashier swipes my driver's license through the register. The machine then kicks and spasms out my receipt. Whoa!

I inquire, "What information, if any, was captured from my license?"

I get that deer-in-the-headlights what-ya-talk'n-bout glaze. She'd never thought about, or was apparently never asked, why she was physically scanning driver's licenses.

"You asked to 'see' my license, but you swiped it. Big difference," I say.

She looks at my receipt and says that maybe they're tracking it for Health Savings Account purposes.

I'm not buying it, but it's clear the cashier wasn't trained or hadn't been properly explained to by management about what, if anything, is being captured when the license is swiped.

In case you're wondering why I'm concerned, the answer is simple. Retailers, many of them, have proven quite incompetent when it comes to protecting credit card and other personally identifiable information, or PII. Just think TJX, Hannaford, BJ's Wholesale Club, and many others. So forgive me if I have a negative bias toward retailers and their ability to adequately secure PII, such as what might have been scanned from the driver's license.

And there's no way I want my name, address, and possibly license number captured and stored anywhere near my American Express account information.

If a retailer is going to scan someone's driver's license through a computer, in which it is possible to capture and store any personal information, cashiers should be trained to accurately explain what information, if anything at all, is being captured. It's possible the register didn't capture anything at all, just simply validated age. But I'd like to know.

So that afternoon I called Target's press office and left a voice mail inquire. No response yet -- three days later. I also e-mailed the customer service department and asked why the license was scanned, what information was examined, what information was stored, and for how long.

Here's the response:

Thanks for asking why your ID was scanned when you were purchasing Nicorette gum. Our guests are required to provide ID when purchasing any nicotine-cessation product, such as Nicorette.

Our cash registers will require our store team members to ask for a form of identification, so the system can verify age. Target Legal requires this prompt because products containing nicotine are legally regulated just like cigarettes. We appreciate your feedback and will be sure to share it with our Store Operations team.

Thanks for shopping with us. I hope we'll see you again soon at Target.

Verifying age for a regulated product is fine. But you don't need to have the register scan the license to do so. It's printed clearly and perfectly legibly on the license. And still no answer to my inquiry on what information, if any, was captured.

And I never once had my license scanned while buying a pack of smokes, anywhere.

So am I overreacting, or would you appreciate retailers being able to explain what they're doing with your information to you? I'd like to hear your opinion.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/27/2020
6 Ways Passwords Fail Basic Security Tests
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  10/28/2020
'Act of War' Clause Could Nix Cyber Insurance Payouts
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  10/29/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How to Measure and Reduce Cybersecurity Risk in Your Organization
In this Tech Digest, we examine the difficult practice of measuring cyber-risk that has long been an elusive target for enterprises. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-27014
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-30
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac 2020 (Consumer) contains a race condition vulnerability in the Web Threat Protection Blocklist component, that if exploited, could allow an attacker to case a kernel panic or crash. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute high-privileged code on the targ...
CVE-2020-27015
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-30
Trend Micro Antivirus for Mac 2020 (Consumer) contains an Error Message Information Disclosure vulnerability that if exploited, could allow kernel pointers and debug messages to leak to userland. An attacker must first obtain the ability to execute high-privi...
CVE-2020-27885
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability on WSO2 API Manager 3.1.0. By exploiting a Cross-site scripting vulnerability the attacker can hijack a logged-in user’s session by stealing cookies which means that a malicious hacker can change the logged-in user’s pass...
CVE-2020-25646
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
A flaw was found in Ansible Collection community.crypto. openssl_privatekey_info exposes private key in logs. This directly impacts confidentiality
CVE-2020-26205
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-29
Sal is a multi-tenanted reporting dashboard for Munki with the ability to display information from Facter. In Sal through version 4.1.6 there is an XSS vulnerability on the machine_list view.