June 29th, 2010 20:19 EST
Amazon to Turn Over Thousands of Customers' Records to Government
Can government agencies conduct sweeping collections of your most personal and private information, including the books you buy online?
That fundamental question is at stake in an ACLU lawsuit we just filed. The ACLU intervened in an existing Amazon.com lawsuit to resist the North Carolina Department of Revenue`s demand that Amazon turn over thousands of customers` records.
The laws governing electronic privacy haven`t been updated since 1986 "before the Internet as we know it even existed. The books, music and movies you browse or buy online can reveal private and profoundly intimate information about your life. It`s time to upgrade the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to keep our personal information safe.
Tell Congress to update our privacy laws and keep your information personal, private and protected.
Our anonymous clients in the Amazon.com lawsuit include:
- Jane Doe 1, who purchased books on self-help and how to get a divorce and a restraining order after her former spouse threatened to kill her.
- Jane Doe 2, the general counsel of a global corporation, who purchased books and movies with overt political leanings as well as books that may reveal her religious beliefs.
- Jane Doe 3, who purchased books on mental health in order to better understand the conditions afflicting her former spouse, including "Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder."
If the North Carolina government gets its way, this information "and the personal records of thousands of others "will be in government hands. We`ve gone to court to stop this massive invasion of privacy and free speech rights. But we must stop it from happening in the future.
Tell Congress to strengthen personal privacy laws to prevent unreasonable government demands for our most personal electronic information.
Amazon has refused to yield to the unreasonable demands for detailed information about what specific individuals are buying online. As part of a tax audit, it has already handed over lists of the exact items purchased and their cost. But North Carolina has refused to relent in its belief that it is also entitled to know the identities of purchasers.
It shouldn`t take either Amazon standing tall or the ACLU intervening to prevent this kind of abuse. We should have clear laws that safeguard our private records, especially when they involve expressive materials like books.
Tell your members of Congress it`s time to update and strengthen privacy laws.