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North Carolina Department of Revenue has agreed to discontinue requesting the personal information of its residents that shop through Amazon

A privacy lawsuit between the North Carolina Department of Revenue and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was settled on Wednesday, and the state agreed to stop requesting its residents' personal information through 

Since 2003, the state has asked Amazon for detailed records of what North Carolina customers were purchasing on the site in order to collect sales use taxes, which amounted to about $50 million. Amazon gave this information to the state without including the customers' personal information such as their name and address, but the North Carolina Department of Revenue started to demand this information as well, which led to the legal battle. 

The American Civil Liberties Union joined Amazon in their fight to protect customer information when the online retailer refused to violate the privacy of its customers. 

"The N.C. Department of Revenue does not need access to private customer records that reveal which specific customers in North Carolina have ordered which specific books, music or movies in order to complete its audit of Amazon and collect any taxes owed," said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. "We are pleased that the public's First Amendment rights have been upheld by this settlement, which prohibits the department from seeking this kind of information from Amazon or other Internet retailers in the future."

A representative for the North Carolina Department of Revenue argued that the state was never really interested in its citizens' buying patterns.  

"The case between the North Carolina Department of Revenue and Amazon has long been twisted into something it is not," said Beth Stevenson, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Revenue. "Bottom line, this is about fairly collecting the tax that is due to the state of North Carolina and nothing more. The Department has always maintained that we do not need - or want - titles or similar details about products purchased by Amazon customers. The department voluntarily destroyed the detailed information that Amazon unnecessarily provided and offered them the opportunity to comply with the state tax laws moving forward.

"The lawsuit on this particular issue could have been avoided altogether if not for the aggressive stance Amazon took to avoid compliance with North Carolina's tax laws. There would have never been an issue of customer privacy if Amazon would simply collect the North Carolina sales tax that others already do."

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled last October that the North Carolina Department of Revenue had overstepped its boundaries with its request for personal information, and noted that there is "no legitimate need" for them to have such information. 

"The fear of government tracking and censoring one's reading, listening and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights," said Pechman. 

According to Rudinger, Amazon was not part of the settlement, and it was unclear whether Amazon's lawsuit regarding the state's audit was pending on appeal.

In addition to Amazon, the North Carolina Department of Revenue is also facing lawsuits from many online travel companies such as, Travelscape,, Trip Network Inc. and Orbitz due to the state and counties' tendencies to "arbitrarily change the contracts" they have with hotels in North Carolina. 

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Most of you guys are dicks
By Rob94hawk on 2/10/2011 7:46:19 PM , Rating: 1
I enjoyed the internet arrogance here on DT. From what I can gather most of you haven't even moved out of mommy and daddys house yet. Try letting go of the tit first and then get back to the board when you all stop trying to sound like you have an ounce of intelligence without the use of google. But I'll be here all night. Looking forward to more of you contradict yourselves.

So tell me, how are you gonna vote down Obama care and stop it from forcing you to pay for insurance? Oh it's not a new tax? Oh that's right it's worded differently. Have fun paying anyway. Too bad the Bush tax cuts were extended. Now your welfare checks wont get an increase...

RE: Most of you guys are dicks
By guffwd13 on 2/11/2011 11:03:07 AM , Rating: 2
funny you should say that cause most people on DT actually share your point of view (politically) and yet they're still voting you down... cause well... you clearly never went to school to learn how things work and go together.

governing people is a great deal more complicated than you realize and taxation is absolutely imperative for it to function. as much as i love my expensive toys... cameras... exotic cars etc... i'd acually find it quite fun (and i'm not sure it'd ever wear off) to live in total chaos... which, ironically, is ultimate freedom. yes governments limit your freedom by definition.

just because you think your way is right, doesn't mean everyone does. this is obvious, but you seem to fail to grasp that. yes this is a forum and by all means speak your point of view, but you until this post simply stated gibberish and accused others of being abusive for asking you to stop using your examples incorrectly.

in no way whatsoever is obamacare taxation without representation (even if it were a tax - which is an actual levy on something you do, buy or own). the only way in which you would not represented in this country is if all legislators (that means Senators and Representatives in plain English).

opposing points of view are absolutely necessary for survival. you don't know happiness without sadness. you don't know right without left. and the human world requires these opposites to keep the other in check... kinda like... our government... with Checks and Balances... maybe you read about that in chapter 4 of your prized history book.

most people on this site are 20-45 (as far as i'm aware) and ironicaly there is a pattern with the one who refers to all others as "children" are actually children themselves. how old are you?

oh and ps - as illigitimate as you think obamacare is, you forgot that auto insurance is also required by law. yes, you have a choice to own a car - but yeah, sadly we don't have european city setups where cars aren't required to do practically anything.

you can call this arrogant all you want, sir, but you're still the one that hasn't acknowledged the lack of thought and philosophy in your arguments and global understanding of what all this - life and order - takes to operate.

the government is not here to ensure you get to live your life as YOU see fit. nor have you demonstrated you deserve it. you are one in 310 million. at the end of the day, nothing you nor i thinks really matters. and with that i've provided the most effective argument here against everything i've just said.

RE: Most of you guys are dicks
By Rob94hawk on 2/11/2011 3:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
funny you should say that cause most people on DT actually share your point of view

LMFOA! Rule #1 when making comments about other people: LEARN TO READ. There wasnt one person here that agreed with me however plenty decided to name call and be dicks. But it's ok. I have thick skin and I enjoy confrontations.

Note to asshats like yourself: Check your ego at the door. No one cares. Really. But I'm sure someone here will respond with some run on sentence that no one but themselves cares about. Enjoy!

RE: Most of you guys are dicks
By guffwd13 on 2/11/2011 5:36:42 PM , Rating: 1
funny you should say that cause most people on DT actually share your point of view

wow dude... my statement read: "share your point of view (politically)." in that sentence the word 'politically' is key because its conveying that while people here agree with your politically.... ie they are conservative like you... they are still making fun of you. generally one people share a certain point of view together they don't make fun of each other for risk of making that point of view look bad. even plainer: people don't usually make fun of themselves. my point was... in pretty plain english... that while they agree with your political conservatism they still made fun of you. this is significant because it means you are so incredibly incompetent (in a dictionary that means stupid), that they went out of their way to call you so (stupid).

in other words: i said exactly what you just said. no one agreed with your statement (but they do agree with your political alignment). but clearly its me who needs to learn to read. you should take your own advice, because its the one intelligent thing you've said thus far.

and btw, i don't consider what i'm saying to egotistical. i consider it standard intelligence. if you consider any of this demeaning, you should hang out with smarter people more often so you get used to having intellectual conversations. but if you want to see some egotism, read some of my past posts. they contain more intellectual prowess and insults than this one.

and of note you haven't actually spent any time addressing any of my "asshole condescending comments." if you actually enjoyed confrontation, you'd enjoy formulating a coherent and logical argument that attempts to refute my statements. rather than just calling me an asshole.

so go ahead, i challenge you to "confront" me. i enjoy debating too... but please for the sake of having a successful debate, think your argument through first so we're not stuck on semantics and inability to follow an argument. just like mathematic proofs in school, all the if...thens need to connect...

RE: Most of you guys are dicks
By guffwd13 on 2/11/2011 5:44:15 PM , Rating: 2
oh and by the way, i ended my previous statement with: it doesn't really matter because what do you or I really matter?

and so you replied:
No one cares. Really.

which again, was what i just said. so your counterattack is to regurgitate (that means repeat) my arguments?

so ultimate irony here is that you say no one cares... and yet... you came back twice, once 12 hours later last night, and again another 20 hours after that to check back to see what people wrote (and also responded).

i guess you did that because you.... didn't care?

RE: Most of you guys are dicks
By Rob94hawk on 2/11/2011 6:42:23 PM , Rating: 1
Would have been interested in debating rationally but when you get a response that starts off with insults because your thoughts dont coincide with others that already displays the type of people you are debating with. Irrational ones. Immature ones.

Rational rebuttal: Your wrong, here's why

DT members rebuttal: You're and idiot, you're posting here why?

Like I said before, read the comments. Would have no problem explaining myself why I posted what I did. But if you're gonna be a dick cause you THINK I don't understand the meaning of what I posted than I'll post comments people can obviously understand.

Kind of like debating with radical muslims. You can debate civilized all you want, in the end they're still gonna try to put a bullet in your head.


RE: Most of you guys are dicks
By Rob94hawk on 2/11/2011 6:44:52 PM , Rating: 2
you clearly never went to school to learn how things work and go together.

Case in point. Comments like this leads to rational discussion how again?

Don't get the wrong idea
By tmouse on 2/10/2011 8:22:43 AM , Rating: 4
The article as written, could give some of the readers the wrong idea. NC can and probably will request the names and amounts of purchases (probably as an end of year statement from Amazon) for tax purposes. The ONLY restriction is they cannot ask or be given the titles or anything that can lead to the identification of the materials being purchased. I really doubt NC was ever interested in that information but Amazon choose to send the item numbers and amounts. This really was just a show lawsuit filed by the ACLU for their own promotion, that’s why NC settled it so quickly. I cannot see why the NC tax department would ever want or care about the nature of the materials bought just the total sales figure for the year. Possibly Amazon chose to send the additional information to trick the courts into an overly broad interpretation that could let them off the hook for additional reporting. While I'm against use taxes (I live in a state with them) I also do not want to pay additional property taxes, so I can live with them. In a state with a lot of renter’s, payroll and use taxes spread the load better than just property taxes and are somewhat fairer than the assumption that home owners are richer than everyone else. In todays computerized world such a list is trivial and Amazon is one of the leaders in computerized goods processing. I certainly do not think they should have to collect the taxes themselves nor do I think any courts would ever enforce such a ruling as it would interfere with federal rights and states autonomy. This way the state with the tax has the burden of collecting as it should be and the reporting by the retailer is really trivial. I do not think Amazon will win in a suit to exempt them from reporting total sales per person figures to the state.

By Rob94hawk on 2/9/11, Rating: -1
RE: Hypocrisy
By Drag0nFire on 2/9/2011 9:43:54 PM , Rating: 3
Sorry. Maybe I didn't read the article carefully enough. How exactly are the people of North Carolina without representation? Do their governor and state legislature have lifetime appointments passed down to their heirs?

RE: Hypocrisy
By FITCamaro on 2/9/11, Rating: 0
RE: Hypocrisy
By Motoman on 2/9/2011 11:25:09 PM , Rating: 4
You haven't got the slightest clue what you're talking about, and you're an embarrassment because of it.

I'll give you every penny I'm worth if you can come up with a cogent argument as to how anything related to this Amazon case has anything to do with "taxation without representation." Only a Grade A moron could dream up something that stupid.

For all intents and purposes, there have always been use tax laws on the books. Since WAY before the internet happened, citizens were required by law to pay use taxes on good they purchased out-of-state and therefore did not pay sales tax on.

The fact that essentially no one ever does pay use taxes does not mean it's not illegal to ignore that law. Nothing new is happening here - the state is trying to collect on taxes that BY LAW it's citizens already owe it.

Having said that, I agree strongly with this ruling because it was totally the wrong way to go about things. States, if they want to make sure they collect use taxes, have to figure out how to enforce their existing laws. Trying to force online retailers to provide such personal information to the states is asinine.

...but maybe only slightly less asinine than your post.

RE: Hypocrisy
By Rob94hawk on 2/10/11, Rating: -1
RE: Hypocrisy
By rdawise on 2/10/2011 1:10:03 AM , Rating: 2

The British made laws and taxed the American Colonists while the American Colonists had no say in the matter. They had no voices in parliament. Hence the saying "no taxation without representation". Just a little history reminder.

The problem wasn't just the laws, it was the unjust taxes without any way of recourse...

RE: Hypocrisy
By Rob94hawk on 2/10/11, Rating: -1
RE: Hypocrisy
By SunTzu on 2/10/2011 5:57:42 AM , Rating: 1
Were you born with some kind of mental retardation? You cannot seriously be this stupid, you must be trolling. I know your american, but even that has to have limits.

RE: Hypocrisy
By Rob94hawk on 2/10/11, Rating: -1
RE: Hypocrisy
By guffwd13 on 2/10/2011 3:22:58 PM , Rating: 1
No dude, you're just not getting it. You are represented by your elected officials. That's the whole point. If you're not happy with "new" taxes (I'll get to that in a minute), then vote for someone else. If that person still gets elected, then sorry bud, you're in the minority and don't get a say beyond your vote. Taxation is managed by the legislators who have to go through the same process as any other bill. Read that section in your history textbook: How a Bill Becomes a Law, and maybe you'll begin to understand.

Now here's the kicker.... wait for it..... sales tax - the tax here in question - has been in use in the United States since the War of 1812. Thats... only 33 years after Washington took office. Thats also 199 years ago. How on earth do you consider that a new tax?

N. Carolina has ever right to complain about not receiving sales tax / use tax (depending on the state) for goods purchased. The point of a use tax is to discourage business conducted outside the state and keep the wealth within the state. Because the US government is a state system, not a federal system, and believe it or not... Mr. Conservative I hate taxes because I'm told to, Republicans LOVE the state system and HATE the concept of a federal system.

Now I happen to think the sales/use taxes are becoming obsolete and unenforceable because of the internet and that income/sales/use taxes need to be overhauled nationwide (sorry Republicans) because there is no other effective and fair way, but I digress because that's probably over you head.

RE: Hypocrisy
By FITCamaro on 2/10/2011 7:16:55 AM , Rating: 3
remind me of how American citizens have had recourse against them

Just because you're not mentally fit enough to vote, doesn't mean the rest of us don't. How do you change laws, including tax laws? You vote for people who believe the same as you and want lower and less taxes. At the state level its even easier to get elected. Often local and state races are decided by a few dozen or a few hundred votes.

RE: Hypocrisy
By sviola on 2/10/2011 8:33:33 AM , Rating: 2
Just because you're not mentally fit enough to vote, doesn't mean the rest of us don't. How do you change laws, including tax laws? You vote for people who believe the same as you and want lower and less taxes. At the state level its even easier to get elected. Often local and state races are decided by a few dozen or a few hundred votes.

Not wanting to put more gas into the fire, but what are the odds of a politician reducing taxes?

RE: Hypocrisy
By theapparition on 2/10/2011 9:16:12 AM , Rating: 2
Reducing taxation is one of the core values of many candidates and at least one party.

Problem is, people are largely uneducated and vote with their hearts or instincts rather than brains. Largely split along party lines, even though their's no rational behind it. Voting has become one big popularity contest.

I mean, I've seen some politicians get caught doing borderline illegal activity, the media rails against them, bad report after bad report. Then they interview locals who state that they would still vote for them, because they are Democrat and couldn't vote for a Republican (or vice versa). Even Rod Blagojevich would have been re-elected if not for the indictment because Illinois is a predominately Democratic state. Shows you how corruption continues based on voter stupidity.

The system works, unfortunately people are too stupid to let it.

RE: Hypocrisy
By Motoman on 2/10/2011 10:29:25 AM , Rating: 3
Just as one example...

When Jesse Ventura was voted in as governor of MN, one of the things he promised to do was to refund to the taxpayers the enormous tax surplus the state had collected. Yes...that's right...the state had collected more in taxes than it needed.

Jesse said he'd give it back. And he did - I, along with everyone else in the state, got a check in the mail refunding some of the tax I had paid.

As an interesting side note, when Jesse was having his press conference announcing how the refund was going to happen, a member of the press asked why the state didn't just use that money to build a new stadium for the Vikings and/or the Twins (don't remember which...was a long time ago). Jesse thought about this for only a couple seconds, and then said "tell you what...I'm going to ask Norwest bank to set up an account for that purpose, and when you get your tax refund check, if you'd rather it go to a new sports stadium then you send it in to the bank."

Didn't hear much about it after that, but a couple months later I did catch a quick update on the local news. They mentioned in passing that "oh, and that account Jesse set up for people to donate their tax refunds to for a new sports arena? Yeah...there's like $1,200 in there." Then a couple smirks, and cut to commercial.

RE: Hypocrisy
By fic2 on 2/10/2011 11:59:29 AM , Rating: 2
I love it. That is the way ALL sports stadium funding should be setup. After all the taxpayers didn't build me a nice office to work in.

RE: Hypocrisy
By sviola on 2/10/2011 12:42:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well, then I have to applaud him. Where I live, that would never happen, the politicians would find a way to spend it (and probably come up with some new taxes).

RE: Hypocrisy
By Rob94hawk on 2/10/2011 7:23:02 PM , Rating: 2
I live in one of the most liberal states in the country so lowering taxes doesn't happen here. But that's what happens when you have Democrats in charge. Government in general is like a retarded robin hood. It robs from the middle class and gives to the rich and poor. Obama is a perfect example of this (AIG and Obamacare)

RE: Hypocrisy
By gamerk2 on 2/10/2011 10:42:28 AM , Rating: 2 have 2 Senators and a Representative to represent

RE: Hypocrisy
By Misty Dingos on 2/10/2011 8:38:08 AM , Rating: 2
Hey Everyone Just Relax!

This is simply a cry for help. And because I am a nice person and I like to help people I will help you out Rob.

When you grow up and get to be 18 years or older you can register to vote in your home state. Now it can be confusing to know when and especially who to vote for. That is why they have these things called "political campaigns". You can recognize most of these by horrible ads on TV. My take on them is to vote for the politician (also called vote whores) whose ads make me laugh the most or throw up the least. But if you don't like this system you can use whatever works best for you.

Now the person that gets elected is supposed to represent your interests while in office. And they will if you can shovel enough money into their cavernous back pockets. Rob that is a little joke. All of our elected officials (except the ones that get convicted for taking money and do end up in prison) really do try to do a good job of looking out for the interests of the people they represent. It just seems that people sometimes forget that the people they elected aren't just responsible for their personal interests.

Now I have left you some links here so that you can read up on some stuff. I think it will make some things a lot clearer for you.

RE: Hypocrisy
By frobizzle on 2/10/2011 8:46:50 AM , Rating: 1
Back in the 1700's the colonies fought against England for taxation without representation. Our current government has learned nothing and obviously we don't learn from history.

You really don't have a clue, do you? Your argument is completely off-topic and falls into the comparing apples and oranges category.

A better example of taxation without representation is all the ridiculous taxes and fees you are assessed when you rent a car or stay at a hotel on a trip. The state and local governments assess these oftentimes not insignificant fees on you and unless you are resident of that state or municipality, you have zero say about it. Just suck up and deal with it.

Do you get it now?

RE: Hypocrisy
By FITCamaro on 2/10/2011 10:29:35 AM , Rating: 2
Last I checked you vote for the local and state officials who decide these taxes and fees. So your argument is just as bad as his.

An actual example of taxation without representation in the US is the many costs of doing business associated with complying with regulations and federal mandates by unelected bureaucrats in the EPA, HHS, etc. While the heads of these government departments are appointed by elected officials, they are in reality creating laws that were not voted on by Congress. A clear violation of the constitution.

Am I saying they should not exist at all? Not necessarily (although they should actually exist at the state level). But their size and scope should be drastically reduced and anything they decide upon should have to be voted on by Congress in order to be enforced.

If you can be penalized with a fine or jail time, it is a law.

RE: Hypocrisy
By SilthDraeth on 2/10/2011 11:23:38 AM , Rating: 2
He was actually talking about traveling to another state via airplane perhaps, then having to rent a car, and having to pay taxes from another area that he doesn't represent.

Not a very good example, but he is right about not havin ga say in those taxes.

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