GameStop Accused Of 'Wiretapping' Customers Without Their Consent

·2-min read
The Conversation
The Conversation

A suit has been filed in California accusing games retailer and NFT clearance house GameStop of recording conversations that customers have with the company’s support service, then sharing “the secret transcripts of those wiretaps with a third party that boasts of its ability to harvest personal data.”

The class action suit, filed by Miguel A. Licea in a federal court—and first reported by Bloomberg—says GameStop:

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...covertly wiretaps the communications of all visitors who utilize the chat feature at www.gamestop.com; and shares the secret transcripts of those wiretaps with a third party that boasts of its ability to harvest personal data from the transcripts for marketing and other purposes. Defendant neither informs visitors nor obtains their prior, express consent to these intrusions.

The key here isn’t that GameStop is recording customer data and “sharing” it with another company; it’s that the company is accused of doing so without gaining the consent of customers. This would be a violation of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), under which “website operators cannot create transcripts of visitors’ conversations (or provide such transcripts to third parties) without obtaining prior, express consent from all parties to the conversation.”

Licea’s lawyers argue that “compliance with CIPA is easy, and the vast majority of companies comply with the law by simply notifying website visitors if their conversations are being recorded.”

The suit continues:

Going from bad to worse, Defendant shares the secret transcripts with Zendesk, a third party that publicly boasts about its ability to harvest highly personal data from chat transcripts for sales and marketing purposes. Rather than merely providing a software service, Defendant allows Zendesk to intercept and use the secret transcripts.

Given the nature of Defendant’s business, website visitors typically share

highly personal and sensitive data with Defendant when using the website chat feature. Consumers would be shocked and appalled to know that Defendant secretly creates transcripts of those conversations and shares them with a third party.

Defendant’s conduct is both illegal and offensive.

We’ve reached out to GameStop for comment, and will update if we hear back.