In the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the National Retail Federation (NRF), which is based in Washington,D.C., and is the largest U.S. trade group for retailers, wants to publicize new voluntary privacy guidelines. Specialprosecutor Kenneth Starr, you may recall, subpoenaed the sales records of three D.C. bookstores from which Lewinskyallegedly bought books, including Nicholson Baker's steamy tome Vox: A Novel, for her White House pal.
Thebookstores were ultimately spared having to decide whether or not to turn over the records when Lewinsky herselfsupplied Starr with the information. But the query raised red flags for retailers. Would the bookstores have set aprecedent for violating the privacy of their customers if they had revealed the purchases? The NRF now counselsretailers to avoid sticky situations by informing shoppers up front about the kinds of data a store collects and howthey might be used.
Last updated: Nov 1, 1998
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman