Amazon.com Sues North Carolina over Demand for Purchaser List

In addition to the ongoing fight between Amazon.com and states seeking to levy sales taxes based on its associates (affiliate) program, as we have previously written about, the retailer has recently brought a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, after the state sought to force Amazon to turn over names and addresses of North Carolina residents who have made more than 50 million purchases since 2003.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (near Amazon's headquarters), seeks to block the disclosure of the data, arguing that the state's request violates the First Amendment rights of users and other privacy laws, and is unnecessary for tax collection. According to the complaint, Amazon has already turned over non-personal data about the purchases in response to a state sales and use tax audit, but the state has gone further in asking for names and addresses. Amazon has previously faced litigation and FTC attention arising out of its privacy policy, so its concerns about North Carolina's demand are understandable.

Our Internet Law practice group will continue to monitor these developments.

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