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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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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...

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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