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Stephens: “Amazon Tax” reporting may breach privacy

Posted by Kelly Maher on November 9th, 2010
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The “Amazon Tax” law in Colorado requires out-of-state online retailers to provide the names and total purchase amounts of Colorado consumers to the state Department of Revenue, so it can track tax revenue due the state from e-commerce. State Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, the incoming House Majority Leader, says the law is flawed as economic policy. In an interview today, she reiterated another concern: citizen privacy.

“The part of the bill that we also challenged was the privacy aspect of the bill,” said Stephens. “So, for example, if [there's] an out-of-state vendor [from which] you buy something…Maybe by the sheer place in which you buy it on the Internet - let’s say www.bikiniphoto.com or communist.org, or you buy a book on, you know, Che Guevara - by its very nature of where you shopped, violates your privacy [once it's reported to the state]. We argued this on the House floor. A recent North Carolina decision versus Amazon confirmed what we had said: violates privacy.”

Here’s more on the recent North Carolina ruling.

“A similar lawsuit filed against Colorado’s Department of Revenue also makes a right-to-privacy argument that we find compelling,” The Denver Post editorialized recently.

A blog, “Eyes on eCom Law” delved into the privacy risks of the Colorado law earlier this year, raising the issues of open records requests and data security.

“Such files are presumptively public records, and thus potentially subject to disclosure under Colorado’s Open Records Law,” the blog asserted. “Furthermore, even if the Department resists the formal requests for access to such records that will inevitably come, public agencies such as the Department are typically not subject to data security laws (for example, Colorado’s data breach statute applies only to individuals and commercial entities), and thus unlike private businesses are not compelled to have meaningful data security measures in place.”

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kelly Maher
    Kelly, a co-founder of WhoSaidYouSaid, brings more than 10 years of campaign and policy work experience. In addition to her skills in grassroots activism and organization, Kelly has a knack for distilling complex issues into accessible messages that resonate with voters. Her policy specialties include health care, education, employment and tort reform. Follow Kelly on Twitter at @okmaher.

One Response to “Stephens: “Amazon Tax” reporting may breach privacy”

  1. Ellen says:

    Since when has our privacy mattered one bit?

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