Defunct gay teen magazine and website XY.com may be forced by the bankruptcy courts to sell off its user list and all the private information associated with it. XY went under in 2007 and its founder, Peter Ian Cummings, filed for bankruptcy this year. One of the few resources he had for the court to work with was the XY user list.
The selling off of private information, gathered under the supposition of privacy, is bad enough. Even worse if you're forced into it. And positively untenable when the information is connected to kids who are dealing with a dawning sexual reality that in some instances is even more fraught than what straight kids go through.
CNET's report on the case was chilling. Shoshana Schiff, the attorney for the bankruptcy trustee, made a statement with some ugly implications.
"Any property listed on the debtor's bankruptcy petition is property of the bankruptcy estate and my client intends to administer those assets for the benefit of creditors."
The creditors involved are Mr. Cummings' private creditors, not the magazine's. But more importantly, if the only thing of any import here are the "benefits of creditors" that means the highest bidder gets the names and information. What if the highest bidder is a creep? (I know what you're thinking: "A creep involved with the Internet?" But it happens!)
The privacy bill's review draft includes this statement.
"A covered entity may not sell, share, or otherwise disclose covered information to an unaffiliated party without first obtaining the express affirmative consent of the individual to whom the covered information relates."
If the highest bidder winds up with a huge list of vulnerable gay teens, it would hardly be surprising to see U.S. lawmakers respond.