Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reconsider Shlahtichman v. 1-800 Contacts Inc., in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that an email confirmation of an online purchase is not “electronically printed” for purposes of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (“FACTA”). Among other restrictions, FACTA prohibits merchants who accept credit cards as payment from printing the expiration date on any receipt provided to the purchaser at the point of sale or transaction. This prohibition applies only to receipts that are “electronically printed.”
The plaintiff, Eduard Shlahtichman, sued 1-800 Contacts, alleging that the company’s email confirmation violated FACTA because it listed his credit card’s expiration date. After considering the issue, the district court dismissed the case, strongly suggesting that FACTA does not apply to e-commerce because emailed receipts are not “electronically printed.” On appeal, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the district court, finding that the ordinary meaning of the term “electronically printed” reaches only those receipts that are printed on paper, and that the use of the term “electronic” did not broaden the scope of the statute beyond paper receipts.
Shlahtichman is one in a series of cases in which courts are struggling to determine the extent to which laws enacted before e-commerce was as widespread as it is today should apply in today’s information economy.