DOJ ends its quest for Amazon sales records

A federal judge in Wisconsin said that the federal government's request for the records of sales by an indicted man raised some concerns, causing the US Attorney's Office to drop the subpoena.

Robert D'Angelo, indicted in October, is being charged with tax evasion and mail fraud. The feds were seeking to force Amazon to hand over the records of nearly 24,000 books the man had sold through the site over the past four years.

However, Judge Stephen Crocker had concerns over the request, He said allowing such a request to go forward could have the unfortunate effect of scaring people away from e-commerce overall.

"If word were to spread over the Net -- and it would -- that the FBI and the IRS had demanded and received Amazon's list of customers and their personal purchases, the chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America," he wrote in his ruling.

The actual ruling was handed down by Crocker in June, and the subpoena was dropped in July. However, the actual records of the case were not unsealed until this month. It also seems quite similar to another effort by the government last year.

In that case, the Bush administration attempted to subpoena Google's search information. In that case too, the presiding judge rejected it on the basis that it could have far-reaching undesired effects to the company's overall business.

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