PhotoAlthough you would never know it to look at its site, dating site True.com has been in bankruptcy proceedings for more than a year and is in the process of selling off its assets.

One of those assets is its database of 43 million consumers. The site's parent company, True Beginnings, based in Plano, Texas, has been seeking permission from the bankruptcy court to sell its database to a Canadian dating service.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott thinks that's a bad idea.

"The proper course is for True.com and its bankruptcy trustee to seek the customers’ permission before selling their private information to a third party – and that’s exactly what our legal action asks the bankruptcy court to require before the case proceeds,” Abbott said in a statement after he filed an objection with the court.

Unfortunately, Abbott's action would only affect the 2 million or so Texans registered with the service. The other 41 million are on their own.

In the court filing objecting to the membership database sale, Abbott argues that the bankruptcy trustee must first give True.com’s members an opportunity to object to the sale of their personal information. True Beginnings has stated that it merely intends to notify members via email that their personal information has been sold.

However, the proposed email notice does not ask customers to first approve the transfer of their sensitive data. Under the current transfer process, to which Abbott objects, the information would be transferred unless the customer takes direct steps to opt-out.

Abbott seeks approval for customers to be allowed to opt-in by having them express approval for the transfer of their personal information.

"Ambiguous and deceptive"

During the sign-up process, True.com customers were told their personal information could not be transferred without their consent. However, Abbott says that "ambiguous and deceptive language embedded within True.com’s privacy policy quietly noted that members’ personal information held in the company’s database would be treated as a transferable asset in the event the company was acquired by a third-party buyer."

The Attorney General’s legal filing urges the bankruptcy court to require the trustee to abide by the terms presented to customers when they signed up for the dating web site.


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