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Yesterday, MNB reported on the case of Tukwila, Wash., Fire Lt. Philip Scott Lyons, who was facing attempted arson charges after someone tried to set his house on fire. The evidence against him, according to reports, included data from the local Safeway’s frequent shopper program, which showed that his family club card had been used to purchase fire starters.

MNB noted that Lyons had been exonerated because “another person” had come forward and admitted setting the fire, and we raised the issue of whether so-called confidential shopper data should be used in such cases.

Well, there’s a reason they call this stuff “news.” Because yesterday MNB was alerted to the fact that the “another person” was, in fact, Lyons’ wife…who presumably used the club card to buy the firestarters.
KC's View:
This is like finding out that it was Mrs. Richard Kimble, not the one-armed man, who was guilty…

You’ll see in ‘Your Views” that we got a fair number of emails on this subject. Regardless of who set the fire, we think the basic subject is worth discussion: What are the parameters for when these lists can be legitimately accessed by institutions other than the retailer?

This is not an insignificant issue. We’ve mentioned before that some retailers have told us that they are concerned that the Patriot Act requires them not only to hand over any frequent shopper data requested by the government, but also requires them not to tell anyone that the data has been disclosed.