An online retailer may collect personal information such as an address or telephone number from a customer as a prerequisite to processing a credit-card transaction without violating California law, a California Superior Court for San Francisco County has ruled. Under California’s Song-Beverly Act, no business that accepts credit cards may “request, or require as a condition to accepting the credit card as payment in full or in part for goods or services, the cardholder to provide personal identification information.”
Craigslist, the defendant in the case, argued successfully that the plain language and meaning of the statute contain no reference to “online” transactions and the court agreed in a one-page order. In doing so, the court reached the same conclusion as the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on a similar matter in 2009.
In February, 2011, the California Supreme Court ruled that that a retailer’s requesting and recording a credit cardholder’s ZIP Code violated the Song-Beverly Act. The ruling touched off a firestorm among retailers because the court said that a person’s ZIP Code, without more, constitutes “personal identification information” as contemplated by the Act.