Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Amazon.com vs North Carolina Department of Revenue

First of all, I am not from North Carolina. But I recently read about a case that is currently being dealt with in which North Carolina wants to audit Amazon.com to make sure that the customers in North Carolina are being taxed a certain way. That in itself sounds fine. The controversial part of the case: The North Carolina Department of Revenue wants information that includes the names of all NC residents who have purchased from Amazon.com since 2003, their addresses, and what they bought. All NC needs to be able to audit the situation is the items that were purchased and how much was paid for them. The personalized information of the customers is NOT necessary. This case has spurred debate that Amazon.com should not have to provide that information and even has several plaintiffs in this case. Many people (in theory) are not ashamed of what they purchase, but for some people, they may purchase books on subjects such as mental health, religion, sex, and politics. What a person's opinion is on each of these subjects and every other subject should be their own business, but if this information of who is purchasing what books become public, some people are worried about the ramifications that it could have pertaining to their job and livelihood.

People should not have to worry about private information becoming a public matter. It should be up to the individual to decide what they would like to be public about themselves and what they would like to keep private. Everyone is entitled to privacy and many people are citing that this is an invasion of our First Amendment rights. This case has involved not only the two parties, but Amazon.com has also enlisted the help of the ACLU - the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is an organization that was created to make sure that we are all allowed to live by the rights we have been given. They deal with many issues and encourage people to talk to their senators and state representatives, which is something we should all be doing to make sure that our voices are heard. With this case becoming so public, the ACLU has encouraged people to write to their senators and representatives about updating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which would keep our electronic information safe, including in situations like this. If you would like to learn about the ACLU - you can visit www.aclu.org.

It's amazing how little control we have over our privacy these days...

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