Amazon refuses to hand over customer data

Amazon has turned to the courts to try and prevent the North Carolina Department of Revenue from getting access to transaction details for all its customers in the state.

It’s filed a lawsuit in a federal court to block the department’s demand for names, addresses, items purchased and the price of goods.

The demand comes as part of an audit of Amazon’s compliance with state tax laws.

Amazon doesn’t have to pay the local sales tax itself, as it doesn’t have a base in the state; instead, customers are supposed to do the right thing and pay it themselves. One presumes that the Department of Revenue suspects that one or two aren’t.

Amazon says it’s already provided details of purchases to the department, but is digging its heels in about names and addresses.
It says the demand breaches the privacy of its customers and violates their First Amendment rights.

“Customers who fear that their purchases will not be private are less likely to purchase books, movies, music or other items that might be personal, sensitive, or controversial,” it says in its filing.

It even, helpfully, cites some recent purchases from North Carolinans which they might not wish to be made public.

They include He Had It Coming: How to Outsmart Your Husband and Win Your Divorce, by Stacy Schneider and Outing Yourself: How to Come Out as Lesbian or Gay to Your Family, Friends, and Coworkers, by Michelangelo Signorile.

Embarrassing music and movies, apparently, include The Marshall Mathers LP, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Brokeback Mountain (Oh, the shame, the shame).