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Blockbuster Store Closings Create Privacy Concerns

Beth Givens with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse was recently walking by a Blockbuster store in Mission Valley, San Diego which happened to be closing down. Outside of the store, Givens found a box of case files that contained Blockbuster employee records, such as job applications and detailed employment termination documents. The documents contained private information such as social security numbers, full names, etc. There are probably signatures and birthdays too. This could be a gold mine for an identity thief or a wonderful supply of embarrassing employment information.

Luckily, Givens found the employee files before a criminal found them. Givens plans to return the files to Blockbuster, and it appears no harm was done in this case, but this incident should sound an alarm.

Blockbuster stores are closing all over the country. With Dish Network taking over, many more Blockbusters are likely to be closing later this year. If Blockbuster is mishandling files from abandoned stores, not only are the employees at risk, but so are the customers.

When you opened that Blockbuster account years and years ago, do you remember exactly what information you put on the account application form? Where is that form now? Could an identity thief use that form to steal your identity? What about your rental records, credit card information, address, etc.? What is Blockbuster doing to make sure this information is not going to fall into the wrong hands?

With all of these stores closing, Blockbuster/Dish Network needs to get on top of this issue. When people trust a company with their privacy, that company has a duty to protect the information of its customers.


Sold! Dish Network Buys Blockbuster at Auction

For some reason, Dish Network has chosen to drop $320 million on the purchase of Blockbuster, Inc. No one is quite sure what Dish Network intends to do with Blockbuster, but one might imagine that Dish Network could use this as an opportunity to create a big brick-and-mortar retail presence. Dish Network could be trying to position itself to better compete with Netflix by being on the street and in the mail in addition to the skies. 

By taking over Blockbuster's existing infrastructure, retail presence, customer base, relationship with movie studios, and merchandise supply channels, Dish Network now has the tools to become a potential threat to companies like Netflix.  Dish Network could now be in the unique position of being able to deliver all kinds of movies to all kinds of consumers in all kinds of different ways.  What other company has all of that?  Redbox has the rental kiosks.  Netflix has DVDs by mail and streaming video.  Many retail stores sell videos.  The pay TV channels and many other services offer video-on-demand.  Up until now, no one company has been able to offer it all, and no one company has been able to reach what is nearly the entire market of video renters/buyers.  Perhaps Dish Network will try to be the first to make that happen.    

Considering the harsh realities that Blockbuster had been facing, this deal is probably as good as it could get for Blockbuster. If Dish Network does wish to build a strong retail presence, they will probably not be liquidating Blockbuster (which had been an extremely likely possibility). If Blockbuster continues to exist in brick-and-mortar form, many Blockbuster employees may be able to hang on to their jobs for a while. Consumers will also not have to face losing one of their video rental options.

Not much is certain at this point, but the Dish Network takeover is probably being viewed as at least moderately encouraging news for anyone who likes Blockbuster or depends on the company for a living.

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