Feeds

Amazon customer purchases protected by US Constitution

Tax collector's land grab struck down

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.