A Small Win For Privacyby Brad Warbiany
Federal prosecutors have withdrawn a subpoena seeking the identities of thousands of people who bought used books through online retailer Amazon.com Inc., newly unsealed court records show.
The withdrawal came after a judge ruled that the customers had a 1st Amendment right to keep their reading habits from the government.
“The [subpoena's] chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker wrote.
“The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their knowledge or permission,” Crocker wrote. “It is an unsettling and un-American scenario to envision federal agents nosing through the reading lists of law-abiding citizens while hunting for evidence against somebody else.”
In the days of warrant-less wiretaps, and PATRIOT act concerns that the feds may be snooping on your public library records, it’s nice to see that someone is still willing to step up and protect the rights of individuals.
It’s a small step, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.