Amazon wins privacy case against tax collectors

Amazon has won a major legal case against North Carolina tax collectors, ensuring that the private customer details of 50 million purchases remain confidential.

The North Carolina state wanted to secure unpaid taxes from residents of the region by forcing Amazon to provide the names and addresses of customers, along with details of what they bought from the online retailer between 2003 and 2010.

Amazon attempted to placate the state by providing anonymous information of items shipped to certain postcodes, but this was not good enough for the state, which threatened to sue Amazon if full customer details were not supplied. The anonymised data would not have been enough to identify and prosecute people who had not paid certain taxes.

The US district judge of Washington state, Marsha Pechman, ruled on Monday in favour of Amazon, saying that the request from the North Carolina state went “too far” and violated privacy rights that are part of the First Amendment. 

She awarded summary judgement to Amazon, which means the case will not go to a full trial. Customers of the vendor should be delighted with the news, which ensures their purchase history remains with Amazon alone.