Target Targets Blogger Who Posted Anti-Theft Procedures

from the trade-secrets-or-freedom-of-speech dept

Target is the latest big company to be bit by bloggers, and they’re apparently not happy about it. The company is trying to find out the identity of an anonymous anti-Target blogger who posted details of Target’s anti-shoplifting procedures, which they claim are confidential. It appears that an ex-employee forwarded the procedures to the site, and the person behind the site notes that he never signed any confidentiality agreement, so the information is fair game. Target, on the other hand, claims that this info is a trade secret, and publishing it is breaking the law. There are some similarities here to the case where Apple sued a blogger for revealing product info which they claimed was a “trade secret.” In that case, the courts chalked it up to a “freedom of the press” issue — but it’s not clear if the same reasoning would apply here. Either way, perhaps a more important issue is that this information is out there now, and it’s not going to disappear (especially as the lawsuit gives it more attention). It says something about Target’s anti-shoplifting procedures that they seem afraid they won’t work if people know about them. Perhaps that suggests Target needs better security procedures in place — where it doesn’t matter whether or not anyone knows about them. Of course, this isn’t the first time Target has run into trouble with people posting information online about it. A few years back it was involved in a lawsuit with a site that posted sale prices before they were officially published. It certainly is natural for a company to worry about all this information getting out there, but at some point it needs to realize there are better ways to deal with it than to go to court.

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Comments on “Target Targets Blogger Who Posted Anti-Theft Procedures”

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Czarnoff says:

It be easier (and cheaper) for Target to post a sign in all of their stores reading “Shoplifters beware! New Anti-shoplifting practices in place! We persecute to the full extent of the law.” They wouldn’t even have to actually change anything. Just stating they had a new practice in place would discourage “Would be thieves” and keep them on their toes.

ken prichard says:

Target Private INFO

Unless their info is clearly marked and they have a procedure that protectects that info they are spitting in the wind! Who cares what their anti shoplifting policies are? They are pretty basic and a pro shoplifter will try to circumvent all systems. Their security consists of personnel, and cameras…big deal..
who cares, they send the offenders to jail….big deal.
Save they money they are paying their corp liers, er lawyers, and move on to something important.

David says:

Shit like this is what bothers me the most about those large stores calculations, though:

“Shoplifting is a $10 billion to $13 billion a year nightmare for U.S. retailers, according to California-based retail security expert Chris McGoey, “… “”That’s profit they should have gained,” said McGoey”

I don’t think that most people who shoplift would necessarily purchase said items, much like downloaded songs and such. I know many people whose libraries wouldn’t be near as large if they paid for all their music.

Jo Mamma says:

Re: Re:

So because they wouldn’t have purchased the item, are they entitled to steal it?

I think Target is perfectly entitled to going after the people who posted this info. I don’t know if they win, but I don’t blame them for doing it.

I will admit the author of the piece has a good point in saying “It says something about Target’s anti-shoplifting procedures that they seem afraid they won’t work if people know about them.” though.

Chris says:

Re: Horrible Arguement

Try again David.

Unlike digital music, where you can make the arguement that the company never lost any money for people stealing their songs(because they are digital, and the cost of producing them is built into the cost of the item) you have shipping fees, handling fees, employees salaries for stocking shelves, etc.

So, unlike digital music, shoplifting does cost companies money. Tons of it. The funny thing is that they don’t mention that 70% of retail theft is employee theft.

Don’t kid yourself. And try a realistic arguement next time.

Rob Van Dam says:

Re: shoplifting == downloading songs

I don’t think that most people who shoplift would necessarily purchase said items, much like downloaded songs and such. I know many people whose libraries wouldn’t be near as large if they paid for all their music.

I understand the obligatory defense of downloading songs whenever anything involving stealing gets mentioned but there really are different dynamics going on here.

The problem is that stealing physical goods is a zero sum game, downloading music is not. If I take a shirt from Target then Target doesn’t have a shirt. Period. Now, it’s probably true that I wasn’t going to pay for that shirt but it’s a shirt that Target no longer has to sell and so they have lost some money (not necessarily the full cost because there’s no guarantee they wouldn’t have had to mark it down to $0.99 to sell it, but they lost something concrete).

With music downloads, if you download a song the only thing that has been lost is the money you would have spent if you had bought it. Since, again, you probably wouldn’t have bought it if you had to pay for it, then they’ve lost no money in your case.

So when the RIAA says they’ve lost $15 billion due to music downloads, it’s a load of crap, if music downloads didn’t exist, they probably would have actually lost more money due to decreased interest generated for their musicians by downloads.

When retailers say they’ve lost $15 billion due to shoplifting, it’s only a slight exaggeration because if all the shoplifters suddenly dematerialized, the stores could have sold most of that merchandise to another customer.

Todd Henkel says:

They have to set an example...

Deterrence is the number one weapon in shoplifting. It never stops. But the more difficult it is, the fewer pros will “shop” your store. All it takes is a reputation to get out on the street that you do not try to prevent shoplifting, do not prosecute shoplifters or bad check writers and you may as well leave the doors open at night to everyone…

@ken prichard…
There is not much more important than keeping inventory loss to minimum when in retail. It can very quickly eat all profit away. Stores with the biggest such problems often get closed for this very reason.

But the losses are not limited to “customers”. In some cases, employee theft can be just as a significant problem.

I speak from experience. And it was stealing from me as well – not just some big monolithic corporation. Since I got a healthy cut of the monthly profit, every theft was taking money out of my pocket too.

Besides the teeny-boppers shoftlifting (who rarely have a clue what they are getting into), there are some really sad shoplifting cases. Hopefully someone will post some. I don’t recall the details, but the worst I recall involved a father using his young daughter to do the physical work so he would not get busted. Nice try but didn’t work. In addition to corrupting a minor, it violated terms of parole for the prior cases, drug abuse, etc. Nice way to teach a child…

ken prichard says:

Re: They have to set an example...

Dude, did you think I was for shoplifting. I am well aware of what shoplifting costs retailers! I just think that large corporations don’t do a good job at addressing the problem. My approach is to combine an the correct store ambiance and be tough and proscecute everybody! Chain down your stuff. I think that reatailers worry more about their appearance…for example….Southland Corp will not remove displays that block windows that help robbers conceal themselves…….stores do not want to devote a budget for store detectives and are fooled into thinking that cctv is the answer to saving $$’s.
I have been in the business for over 30 years and part of that was in retail with Monkey Wards, what I learned there applies to all businesses, shinkage is not just an explanation on an audit sheet…it is theft.

smellygirl says:

I will admit the author of the piece has a good point in saying “It says something about Target’s anti-shoplifting procedures that they seem afraid they won’t work if people know about them.” though.

Not really. Security always works better when the full extent of the security measures are unknown to the perpetrators.

Are those cameras you see real or decoys? Are there other hidden cameras in addition to the ones you can see? Are there plainclothes detectives in place? Are there alarm systems attached to the goods? Will the store even procecute small thefts? etc, etc.

If the thief knows exactly what measures are in place, it becomes MUCH easier to circumvent them.

R says:

3 of 5

I know a retail shop that used to have a 3 of 5 policy. You had to see the perp take an item, know that it was company property, watch them the entire time they had the item, see them leave the building/property (leaving HAD to be one of the 3 qualifiers), and I forget the fifth but…

Anyway, this made it easy for people to pull the ‘fill an aquarium box full of playstation games and have a friend come in and buy the aquarium the next day with all the goodies included’ easy. They basically had to walk away from the suspect and return the games to the shelf if they did see the guy filling the box.

Steve from Chicago says:


Powered by


Target Sues Blogger

SEPTEMBER 19, 2006 — Target Corp., Minneapolis, is suing an unidentified “John Doe,” who is believed to reside in Georgia, in federal court for posting Target’s anti-theft procedures on Web sites and several retail-employee forums on the Internet in July, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. In a court filing, Target said this information is used to secure merchandise from shoplifters and is given to employees on a “need-to-know” basis. The lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 5 in federal court in Atlanta, follows a two-and-a-half-month campaign to remove multiple postings from several message boards. In July, Wal-Mart faced a similar situation when its recent theft-prevention policy–stating that shoplifters would no longer be charged for stealing less than $25 in goods–was leaked to The New York Times. Target is seeking the help of AOL, Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to identify “John Doe,” but it is not clear if the companies will comply. In the lawsuit, Target claims the postings have already led to losses and that they provide “potential wrongdoers with a blueprint for circumventing Target’s security procedures.” The suit also claims that the 30-plus-page policy was e-mailed to “John Doe” by a terminated Target theft-prevention employee in Wisconsin, and that the ex-employee and blogger knew each other through association with anti-Target Web sites. If Target does ID the blogger and he or she refuses to stop postings, the situation could turn into a complicated First Amendment case.

I googled the topic and while several sites mentioned have taken the AP procedures down there are still some that are out there:

I also looked at the public filing online (not free) and the company lawyers have subpeoned 3 ISP’s for identifying info for the poster.

The name of the ex-target employee is: Scott Hundt and according to the filing he posted it originally on (since removed) and emailed it to the purported ‘blogger’. The Federal case was filed Sept 5th, 1:06-cv-2116-cc, if you want to see the info you can register/pay at (800) 676-6856, it goes for 8 cents a page.

I suspect that the best way to keep the info out there is for other bloggers to copy and repost it on other sites or blogs.

The info in my opinion is a gold mine for any attorney who defends anyone in a Target shoplifting case. I think THIS is what upsets Target and NOT that Joe and Jill Sixpack read the stuff. The real damage will be from defense lawyers grilling the AP people as to whether or not they followed their own ‘security manual’ in making the arrest. FYI: if some potential thief goes into a dressing room or bathroom then the security can NOT stop them per their policy, and even if something is recovered the security person may well be discharged for violating company policy.

I believe that I read that anything over $20 should be prosecuted, but it is a long document and perhaps I am confusing that figure with the recent Times publication of the Wal-Mart revamped policy.

Go read it/copy it/repost it for yourselves.

Find this article at:

Steve from Chicago says:

Further Info on Federal Civil Suit

OK, back again after looking at many sites on this topic. I found an Australian guy who has posted the whole 29 pages which I mentioned above, all you have to do it paste in the below to your browser window and sit back for a few minutes while the 29 pages load, take a nap, shag the wife etc, it took a long time on my machine but you might want to take a look:

Sammy443 says:

Re: Further Info on Federal Civil Suit

That one you mentioned is no longer ‘up’ but you can look at for the case. Here is part of it:

Target Corporation, a Minnesota
corporation, V JOHN DoE, 1 :06-CV-2116

For its Complaint, plaintiff Target Corporation (“Target”) states and alleges as

Target brings this action against an Internet user who is deliberately posting Target
copyrighted, confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information across the Internet, including to a website hosted in Minnesota. Target seeks an injunction against Defendant, as well as other available legal and equitable relief arising from Defendant’s tortuous actions.

1 . Target is a Minnesota corporation with its principal place of business in
Minneapolis, Minnesota .

2 . The true name and capacity of Defendant is unknown to Plaintiff at this time
Defendant is known to Plaintiff only by his Internet username “Target Sucks .” Additionally,

Case 1:06-cv-02116-CC Document 1-1 Filed 09/05/2006 Page 1 of 29

mrpauljrogers@yahao com, chams46Chotmail .com, anonymousematl2@aol com,, and

3 This Court hasjurisdiction under 17 U .S C ? 101 et seq, 28 U .S .C.
? 1331(federal question); and 28 U .S C ? 1338(a) (copyright) . This Court also has
jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U .S C. ? 1332(a)(1) because the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between citizens of different states .
4 . Venue in this District is proper under 28 U S C ? 1391 and/or 28 U .S.C
1400(a). Although the true identity of Defendant is unknown to Plaintiff at this time, on information and belief, Defendant resides in the State of Georgia and a substantial part of the acts of infringement and rrusappropriahon complained of herein occurred in this District .

Target’s Business and Valuable Intellectual Property
5 Target owns and operates retail merchandise discount stores across the United
States . Today, Target operates more than 1400 TARGET stores, including more than 45
TARGET stores in Georgia
6. As part of its effort to protect its retail stores from physical threats and
financial losses, Target, through considerable effort and expense, has created loss prevention procedures and protocols . One of the key loss prevention protocols created by Target is Target’s Asset Protection Directives (“Target AP Directives”)
7. The Target AP Directives are a set of written methods, techniques and
processes that are used by Target’s asset protection personnel to secure Target’s merchandise

Case 1:06-cv-02116-CC Document 1-1 Filed 09/05/2006 Page 2 of 29

Internet at the website wrAw .targetunion .org . and other property from theft, and to deal with the apprehension of shoplifters and other wrongdoers .
8 . The Target AP Directives are Target copyrighted, confidential, proprietary,
and trade secret information .
9 The Target AP Directives include information that is not generally known to
the public or in the industry .
10 . Target goes to considerable measures to protect the secrecy of this
information The Target AP Directives are password restricted and only available to those employees with a “need-to-know,” namely, the asset protection team .
11 . Target has an Information Security Policy where all employees, before
commencing their employment, sign an acknowledgement agreeing to maintain the
confidentiality of Target’s non-public information . and to never disclose it to anyone outside of the company.
Defendant’s Improper Use of Target’s AP Directives
12. On or around June 29, 2006, Defendant acquired a copy of Target’s AP
Directives from a recently terminated Target employee, Scott Hundt (“Hundt”) . Upon
information and belief, Hundt only knew Defendant because of his anti-Target website
postings Hundt sent a copy of the Target AP Directives to Defendant by email
13 Hundt, as a former asset protection specialist at a Target store in Wisconsin,
improperly kept the Target AP Directives upon termination .
14. On Sunday, July 2, 2006, Hundt also posted the Target AP Directives on the

Case 1:06-cv-02116-CC Document 1-1 Filed 09/05/2006 Page 3 of 29
15 . On or around July 10, Target learned of Hundt’s improper disclosure to
Defendant and the Internet. Shortly thereafter, Target contacted Hundt by telephone Hundt returned Target’s telephone call and acknowledged his wrongdoing . Hundt immediately deleted all references to the Target AP Directives from his hard drive and from the Internet .
16 . Target also demanded that Hundt contact Defendant and request that
Defendant destroy the Target AP Directives, delete any Internet postings of the Target AP Directives posted by him, and never use them again . Hundt stated that he did not know Defendant’s name or address, and did not personally know him, but had his email address . Hundt emailed Defendant and requested him to remove the postings, but Defendant failed to respond.
17. Hundt also provided Target with the email address that Hundt had for
Defendant Target emailed Hundt a cease and desist letter at that address, but received no response .
18 Instead of abiding by Target and Hundt’s demands to remove the Target AP
Directives, Defendant began posting the Target AP Directives on various retail-employee forums on the Internet, including the following locations :

Edwin R. Perkins says:

Target Has Probably Just Given Up

Target Targets Blogger

The Target Corp v. John Doe Civil suit filed 9/5/06 seems to have hit a brick wall with Tarbutt failing to find anyone to serve in the case. See: for details on the suit, and take a look at: for the actual directives.

So unless something breaks in the case we will never know if Target Corp can crush Blogger Doe like King Kong stepping on a bug.

Probably any seasoned hacker could ‘find’ Doe, but the problem with that is that of ‘clean hands’, in that if a hacker is employeed by either Target or any entity representing them and said hacker uses ‘illegal means’ to track down Doe then the whole thing may well be tossed out and Target will have to change from using a red bullseye to a black eye.

So we can assume that the 3 ISPs information which Target obtained by subpeonas yeilded no actionable information, possibly Doe had registered with them as ‘Bugs Bunny’ et al and the initial subpeonas led nowhere.

So for the moment the info on the Directives from the unknown Mr/Mrs Doe and the ex-T security man Scott Hundt from WI is not only out there on the net it is spreading from blog to blog and is easily available by a simple google search of keyworlds.

Keep in mind that if Target had just ignored the postings in the first place, only a few hundred people would have seen the Directives, by now that is in the tens of thousands and should Xmas come early for Target and attorney Bundy then the amount of press interest will be huge as this ‘could be’ a defining case for Freedom of Speech on the internet v. old and outdated Copywright protections.

But in all probability the case will simply fade away for lack of service and who knows, perhaps Target isn’t really trying that hard as the consequences of actually serving Doe may have finally become apparant to Target!

RoboCop says:

all bullshite

All this shite about intelectual property rights and copyrights is B U LL. I get so mad when corporations or the music/software industry want to protect their rights and expect governments to do it for them. If you want to protect you shite, do something to protect it, don’t just spend money sueing!!! Do investigations find out where the leaks are and plug them. Go after the violators yourselves……It is very technical to do a trademark infringement case, or copyright….but there are ways to do it that are effective if the suits would start thinking “out of the box” Naw, not out of the box…but treat each situation as if it were brand fing new and approach it with a brand new solution subject to the situation.

JOHN DOE (user link) says:




Atlanta Business Chronicle
Friday 9-16-06
By Justin Rubner, Staff Writer

Suit: Blogger posted Target trade secrets

Target Corp. is on the hunt for a feisty blogger who has allegedly posted the retail giant’s secrets on the Internet.

The Minneapolis-based company is suing the unidentified “John Doe”, who is believed to live in Georgia, in Federal Court for posting Target’s anti-theft procedures on Web sites and various retail employee forums on the Internet in July.

The information is used to secure Target’s merchandise from shoplifters and other wrongdoers. Target says in a court filing it is provided to employees on a “need-to-know” basis.

To find out who the “John Doe” is, Target is seeking the help of AOL, Yahoo!Inc. and Microsoft Corp. It’s unclear whether these companies will comply, though.

The lawsuit, filed Sept. 5th in Federal Court in Atlanta, follows a two and a half month campaign that included efforts to get the multiple postings deleted from various message boards.

It also follows the publishing of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s recent theft-prevention policy change, leaked to the New York Times in July, which said shoplifters would no longer be charged for stealing less than $25 in goods.

Shoplifting is a $10 billion to $13 billion a year nightmare for U.S. retailers, according to California-based retail security expert Chris McGoey, also known as the “Crime Doctor”. Even though stores such as Target and Wal-Mart rack in tens of billions of dollars of sales annually, shoplifting can account for up to 3 percent of those sales every year, he says.

“That’s profit they should have gained,” said McGoey, who advises almost every national retail chain in the country.

Target operates more than 1,400 stores, including 45 in Georgia.

Target’s lawsuit illustrates the lengths to which companies will go to protect secret information from reaching the masses, said Jason Bernstein, an Atlanta-based intellectual property attorney at Powell Goldstein LLP. He says Target is trying to send a clear message to rogue posters that the publishing of trade secrets is something the company will not stand for.

“It’s demonstrating to me an incredible awareness these companies have of the importance of their trade secrets and confidential info because they rely on them to increase sales and prevent theft,” Bernstein said. “Companies like Target, they’re also trying to send a statement to the industry. They’re probably very upset over this.”

In the lawsuit, Target claims the postings have already led to losses and that they provide “potential wrongdoers with the blueprint for circumventing Target’s security procedures.” The policy which Atlanta Business Chronicle obtained at, outlines in detail various rules, such as mandating that all thefts above $20 must be referred for prosecution and barring anyone from photographing employees who have been caught shoplifting.

If Target does ID the blogger, and he or she still refuses to cease the postings, the company faces some sticky issues, a First Amendment and intellectual property expert says.

For one, it is not known whether the poster ever signed a confidentiality decree. If the John Doe didn’t, then Target would have to prove the poster knew the policy was confidential, said David Bodney, a First Amendment and media rights lawyer with Phoenix-based Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Bodney, also a lecturer at Arizona State University, adds that Target would have to prove the postings had no legitimate purpose other than to malign. “It’s an uphill battle, he said.

However, he also points out that free speech is not absolute, especially if a judge decides – as Target claims – that the policy is a court-protected company secret.

“It’s a disappointing reality that our constitutional liberties are conditional,” Bodney said.

According the suit, the poster obtained the 30-plus-page policy from a terminated Target theft prevention employee in Wisconsin. That employee allegedly e-mailed the policy to the John Doe and only knew the poster through his association with the anti-Target Web sites.

In July, just days after the employee posted the policy on, the suit says Target contacted the employee and demanded he delete it from the site and his computer. He allegedly obliged, but the John Doe never did – despite the fact that Target contacted the poster’s various e-mail accounts and posted messages on popular anti-Target Web sites demanding the practice to stop.

In response to one of Target’s postings, the blogger – who used screen names such as “Target Sucks” – allegedly wrote online “I didn’t sign any confidentiality agreement with them and really don’t give a rat’s ass if they like it or not.” The poster also warned others on that Target law firm Faegre & Benson was monitoring the site, and published attorney Kerry Bundy’s e-mail address and phone number. In response, another poster wished “a million scrounger” on the law firm. A scrunge is a parasitic alien on Nintendo video games.

An e-expert was hard pressed to predict which side has the upper hand. Eugene Volokh, a University of California law professor who specializes in free speech issues, compares the case to four others: three involving Apple Computer Inc., and one involving Fort Motor Co. Apple has had mixed luck with its ongoing war against leakers in recent years. And Ford in 1999, lost a lawsuit regarding a blogger who posted corporate documents showing some negative information about the company’s vehicles. The site,, still exists today.

Protecting secrets or targeting free speech?

Target Corp. is suing a blogger for posting a secret theft-prevention policy online.

* The unknown poster is believed to live in Georgia
* Target is asking AOL, Yahoo! And Microsoft for help in locating the poster
* The policy has been posted on several sites, including and

Source: Complaint No 1:06-CV-2116 filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

Anonymous Coward says:

TARGET deserve scorn and riducule. Their management is run by a bunch of half-wits. Their security is equivalent to the “Keystone Cops”or the Gang that couldn’t shoot straight”. They wish they stopped shoplifters. The #1 activity of their so called security is banning shoppers who they don’t like and declaring them “tresspassers”……never to be allowed in Target again.

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