Feds Lose Bid for Amazon.com Customer Records

November 29th, 2007

Which Feds?

The Feds who point the business end of the NarusInsight Intercept Suite at our heads didn’t go to court. Since that program doesn’t officially exist, why would They go to court? So, no, those Feds weren’t in court, requesting sensitive information from Amazon, because those Feds already have it.

This story is a real mind f*cker because part of the U.S. Government obviously has the data already, but the Justice Department is going through the dog and pony show with the subpoena process. What happens? Hundreds of news articles are written about how peoples’ privacy was maintained by the valiant judge who rejected the government’s request for Amazon’s customer records.

Never mind the secret rooms in the carriers’ data centers. NSA employees on site. Purpose built supercomputers and networking gear for mass surveillance… The sworn testimony of AT&T employee Mark Klein, who helped install the equipment for NSA intercept operations. Just believe that the Justice Department’s request for your personal information was was rejected by the judge.

Ah, there, there. Feel better now?

Via: Cnet:

Federal prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to force Amazon.com to identify thousands of innocent customers who bought books online, then abandoned the idea after a judge rebuked them.

In an order that was sealed but has now become public, U.S. District Judge Stephen Crocker rejected the Justice Department’s subpoena for details on Amazon’s customers and their purchasing habits. Prosecutors had claimed the details would help them prove their case against a former Madison, Wisc., city official charged with tax evasion related to selling used books through Amazon.

“The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their prior knowledge or permission,” Crocker wrote in June. Amazon filed the lawsuit to quash the grand jury subpoena.

The case is reminiscent of last year’s attempts by federal prosecutors to wrest sensitive search-related information from Google through a subpoena. A California judge eventually rejected the request for users’ search queries (and allowed only an excerpt from Google’s index of Web sites).

In both cases, the judges worried about public perception. California’s Judge James Ware was concerned about the “perception by the public” that Google search terms are “subject to government scrutiny.” In the Amazon case, Judge Crocker predicted that “rumors of an Orwellian federal criminal investigation into the reading habits of Amazon’s customers could frighten countless potential customers into canceling planned online book purchases, now and perhaps forever.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.