Most large companies doing business in California are required by the state’s new privacy law to disclose what they know about customers and how that information is used.
This resulted in fairly straightforward announcements by many businesses.
Then there’s Ralphs, the supermarket chain owned by Kroger.
Customers recently encountered a form at stores spelling out information that may be collected when joining the company’s Ralphs Rewards loyalty program.
The form is eye-opening, to say the least, in laying out the extensive efforts Ralphs says it could take to learn about customers’ lives beyond the supermarket, including your job, your education, your health and your insurance coverage.
While most if not all such corporate disclosures define possible data collection as broadly as possible to err on the side of caution, Ralphs’ form is unusually all-encompassing for a supermarket loyalty program.
“It’s scandalous,” said Joseph Turow, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania who focuses on privacy issues. “Why does a grocer need to know so much about its customers?”