Amazon.com is suing the North Carolina Department of Revenue after the seemingly out of control state bureau demanded the names and addresses of all local customers since 2003.
According to Publisher’s Weekly, the request by North Carolina is a part of the state’s efforts to collect sales tax on items purchased by residents from Amazon.
"When North Carolina first announced its plans to collect sales tax from online retailers, Amazon closed down its affiliates program in the state, arguing that without that program the state had no nexus to collect sales tax," wrote Jim Milliot of Publisher’s Weekly.
"[And now], North Carolina is demanding [Amazon] turn over records of what each customer purchased and how much they paid."
Indeed, Amazon noted that it must either comply with North Carolina’s request and "violate the privacy and First Amendment rights of Amazon and its North Carolina customers, or refuse to comply with a request from a state agency that has stated its intention to issue an administrative summons."
Meanwhile, Chris Finan, head of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, told Publisher’s Weekly that the demand by North Carolina "is clearly a right to privacy issue."
For example, if North Carolina were successful "it would have a terrible chilling affect on what people could comfortably buy...There is simply no justification for demanding to know who bought what."