Clear to Sell User Data

When Clear announced their intent to terminate operations, the big question was: “What’s going to happen to each users’ private data (things like, um, fingerprints and background checks)?”

Now we know.  They intend to SELL IT!  This is why I harp on making sure that you have the proper provisions in your contract(s) for confidentiality, indemnification, information security and limitation of liability

To Clear’s credit, they are saying that they’re going to continue to comply with their pre-existing privacy policy – and that the data can only be sold to another TSA-approved traveler program.  But what if that program is run by an organization you wouldn’t want to have your personal details?*

Interestingly enough, however, this violates the terms of that agreement (as it existed when I pulled it from on June 29, 2009) – boldings are mine:

A. We do not sell or give lists or compilations of the personal information of our members or applicants to any business or non-profit organization. We do not provide member or applicant personal information to any affiliated or non-affiliated organizations for marketing.
B. None of the information that we collect may be used for any purpose outside the operation and maintenance of the Clear Services.
C. We would only disclose personal information about members or applicants if required to do so by law or legal process.

The termination of operation might be considered a “legal process” – but the way the language is written, 3.C. would not be valid as a result of the company’s dissolution.  Thus, they’re limited to 3.A. – which clearly states that they won’t sell the information to “any business.”  I wonder what the chance is now that they’ll only sell it to someone who’s TSA-approved.

*Not that the government doesn’t now already have your information as a result of the background check.  I’m just sayin’.

3 thoughts on “Clear to Sell User Data

  1. Luis

    Presumably they’ll sell the final remnants of the company to whoever wants to buy it (calling it a merger or what have you) and the data will just come along with that. Voila, no ToS violation.

  2. randomjohn

    Actually, that 3.A is formulated in the present tense. “We do not sell.” Not “we will not sell” or “we shall not sell.” They could just claim that it was a true statement at the time it was made. Did they later reserve the right to amend the policy without notice? I wouldn’t be surprised…

    1. Jeff

      Present or future tense shouldn’t matter. Neither would a claim that it was “true at the time”. You can see for yourself about amendments, as I linked to the document. Regardless, courts have already started tossing the particular option out the window. So, I would say that this Privacy Policy is actually quite limiting. It would, of course, take someone to challenge Clear’s behavior to see what would really happen.


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