The North Carolina Department of Revenue has agreed to stop gathering personal data on on-line buyers.
The agreement came in the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Amazon to stop the NCDOR from collecting information. The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU-NCLF, and ACLU of Washington got involved in the lawsuit on behalf of several Amazon customers.
A federal judge ruled in October 2010 that the government’s requests about Amazon customers violate internet users’ rights to free speech, anonymity and privacy.
Read more on NBC17.
A statement on the ACLU’s blog says, in part:
The North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR) has agreed to stop asking for personally identifiable customer information in combination with details about the titles of customers’ purchases from Internet retailers. The agreement came in the settlement of a lawsuit originally brought by Amazon.com to stop NCDOR from collecting such information. The ACLU and its affiliates in North Carolina and Washington state (where Amazon is headquartered) intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of several Amazon customers whose private information was at stake.
This settlement is a great win for privacy. While the court’s ruling concerned only the specific request issued to Amazon, the settlement covers requests to all Internet retailers who sell books, movies, music, and similar expressive materials. North Carolina has apparently issued similar requests to other Internet retailers, and previously indicated that it planned to issue more such requests in the future. We are pleased that North Carolina has agreed to take a new approach. Requesting information about what people are purchasing online causes real harm, to real people, and it is unconstitutional in these circumstances.