New York City Comptroller Requests Investigation Into Walmart Spying Operation

Upset by a Wall Street Journal article exposing Walmart for spying on its shareholders, New York CIty Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., has formally requested that the US Attorney General and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate Walmart for “ill-considered and possibly illegal surveillance operations.” New York City’s Pension Fund holds about 8 million shares of Walmart. From the Wall Street Journal:

In letters to both agencies, Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., citing a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, said he was “particularly troubled by reports that Wal-Mart engaged in chilling and truly outrageous surveillance activities.”

The April 4 article detailed the company’s extensive surveillance of employees, critics and shareholders. As one example, the article detailed how internal security groups were asked to investigate shareholders who had submitted proposals that could potentially disrupt the company’s annual meeting and that the company was trying to block.

Walmart didn’t respond to the Wall Street Journal, but they did respond to the comptroller. He wasn’t satisfied.

“The response they gave my office was that it was justifiable and that they had no problem with it,” Mr. Thompson said. “We want to know to what level this background investigation went. If they just Googled us, fine. But we can’t get answers.”

A letter from Walmart to their shareholders claims that Walmart

“in the ordinary course of business and for legitimate business reasons, Wal-Mart will conduct background research on persons or organizations, including proponents of shareholder proposals … Any information gathered about proponents of shareholder proposals would come from internet searches and from other publicly available sources of background information.”

For Walmart’s benefit Consumerist has been updating a Twitter account. No need to tap our phones or send people to watch our front door. We’ll let you know what we had for breakfast. A bagel. It was effing delicious. —MEGHANN MARCO


Official Asks For Probe of Walmart Surveillance
[WSJ](Thanks, Nu!)
(Photo: brappy!)