Today, the ACLU will be in a federal court in Seattle arguing that the North Carolina Department of Revenue’s (NCDOR) demands for detailed purchase information made by Amazon.com customers is an unconstitutional violation of those customers’ rights to free speech, anonymity and privacy.
The NCDOR asserted it needed this information for tax collection purposes, so Amazon responded by furnishing a list of the items its customers had purchased, but withheld information linking those purchases to specific customers. But that wasn’t good enough—NDCOR demands to know who bought what.
Amazon filed the initial lawsuit back in April 2010 to prevent NCDOR from collecting this information. In May, the ACLU sent a letter to North Carolina Secretary of Revenue Kenneth Lay expressing our concern about these unreasonable demands. Lay and the NCDOR didn’t back down from its demand, so in June, the ACLU intervened in Amazon’s lawsuit on behalf of seven anonymous Amazon.com customers.
Which brings us to today’s arguments. The Amazon customers we represent — indeed, anyone who’s purchased books, movies or any other legal thing online — should be able to make purchases freely without the government looking over their shoulder. We hope the court agrees.