Feeds

Amazon customer purchases protected by US Constitution

Tax collector's land grab struck down

Website security in corporate America

Lists that identify the titles of books, music, and movies purchased by Amazon.com customers are protected by Free Speech rights guaranteed by the US Constitution, a federal judge has ruled.

The landmark ruling by US District Judge Marsha J. Pechman of Seattle, was a sharp rebuke of North Carolina's DOR, or Department of Revenue, which in December ordered Amazon to turn over sales data for all customers with a shipping address within the state who made purchases from 2003 to 2010. Amazon, which says it has conducted almost 50 million transactions with North Carolina residents during that time, filed suit in April arguing that request threatened anyone who may have bought controversial or sensitive titles.

On late Monday, Pechman agreed.

“The First Amendment protects a buyer from having the expressive content of her purchase of books, music, and audiovisual materials disclosed to the government,” she wrote in a 26-page ruling (PDF). “Citizens are entitled to receive information and ideas through books, films, and other expressive materials anonymously. The fear of government tracking and censoring one's reading, listening, and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which joined the case on behalf of several Amazon customers, hailed the decision.

“This ruling is a victory for privacy and free speech on the internet,” a legal director for the organization said in a statement. “The court has emphasized what other courts have found before – that government officials cannot watch over our shoulders to see what we are buying and reading.”

The dispute came in between Amazon and North Carolina tax collectors about the amount Amazon was provided to pay the state. North Carolina law requires taxes to be paid on online purchases if the sale of the same item in a physical store would result in a sales tax. For years, Amazon got around this requirement because, it argued, it had no physical presence in the state.

Last year, a new law was passed that required Amazon to collect sales taxes because it had a network of affiliates in the state in the form of residents who promoted sales and offered coupons.

More from the Associated Press is here. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.