Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DOR Request for Amazon Sales Data Violates First Amendment

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments t...Image via Wikipedia
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington this week ruled in v. Lay (Case No. C10-664-MJP) that efforts by former North Carolina Dept. of Revenue Secretary Ken Lay to obtain information from Amazon, Inc. regarding sales to North Carolina residents for tax purposes violated the First Amendment.

As first reported by The Volokh Conspiracy blog, Judge Marsha J. Pechman cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995) for the principle that anonymity "exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular."  The Court held that the government had no right to know what music, books and audiovisual materials North Carolinians were purchasing through

In her 26-page opinion granting Amazon's request for summary judgment and denying DOR's motion to dismiss, Judge Pechman wrote: "[T]o the extent the March Information Request demands that Amazon disclose its customers' names, addresses or any other personal information, it violates the First Amendment and 18 U.S.C. sec. 2710 only as long as the DOR continues to have access to or possession of detailed purchase records obtained from Amazon."

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