Print 30 comment(s) - last by Rob94hawk.. on Feb 11 at 6:44 PM

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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By Rob94hawk on 2/9/2011 9:27:41 PM , 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.

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.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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