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Judge Backs Amazon, Raps Feds Over Book Records

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the can't-hide-your-prying-eyes dept.

The Courts 113

netbuzz alerts us to a ruling in federal court that has just been made public. US Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker told the Feds to lay off Amazon in denying prosecutors' requests for records of who bought what books at the online retailer. The judge wrote, "The [subpoena's] chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America." Prosecutors had demanded 24,000 transaction records from Amazon, all in service of convicting a city official on charges of fraud and tax evasion. In the end they found customer information on the official's PC, where they should have looked in the first place.

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113 comments

Gary Kasparov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497401)

Try getting his book!

Re:Gary Kasparov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21498445)

It's only illegal in Russia IIRC.

like how they do in prison (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497411)

Judge Backs Amazon, Raps Feds

When I read that, I added an extra "e" in there, but I guess that's just wishful thinking.

Re:like how they do in prison (2, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497501)

Why would you be wishful about rapping feeds?...

Wait a minute... oh... you're a naughty boy!

Re:like how they do in prison (0, Offtopic)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497513)

What?
You take pleasure watching men ass rape other men??? Pics or it didn't happen!

Re:like how they do in prison (-1, Troll)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497619)

You take pleasure watching men ass rape other men??? Pics or it didn't happen!

I don't know if I'd use the word "pleasure", and believe me, you don't want pics [google.com] .

Close Encounters Of The Rear Kind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497791)


Luckily, they didn't find my [whitehouse.org] Amazon orders.

Feloniously Yours

Re:like how they do in prison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21498127)

When I saw your User Name, I read "Moron", but I see that it is actually "Idiot".

Prison rape is not a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21500121)

All rape is a horrible thing, and it's offensive that prison rape is still a topic that people find acceptable to joke about.

Re:Prison rape is not a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21502117)

Getting butt-fucked in prison has got to be a bigger deterrent than prison alone... If you can't do the time, don't do the crime - simple really.

Re:Prison rape is not a joke (1)

Maniac-X (825402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21504257)

Or more accurately, if your sphincter can't do the time...

Amazon has dangerous material (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497441)

Personally, I'd be very concerned if people were buying books like these [amazon.com] . I would certainly defend the government's right to weed out such subversives.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (3, Informative)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497527)

If that was meant as a joke, then reality is already one step ahead of you. [digg.com]

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

myspys (204685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497655)

as Digg notes:

"Warning: The Content in this Article May be InaccurateReaders have reported that this story contains information that may not be accurate."

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497727)

As usual, the situation is not as black and white as that documentary tries to make it seem. Prior to anti-psychotic drugs (in the 70s), we just locked up psychotics. Carter let 'em all out, because when they took their drugs, they were not a danger to themselves or others.

Problem is, they don't take their drugs. So you have a lot of bat-nuts homeless guys out wandering around without their medication.

So what do you do? Put 'em back in the institution even though they don't pose a threat, or make their meds "compulsory" and just accept that they will ignore the compulsory part.

For the record, anyone who decides that they are "defending the constitution against the federal government" is probably bat-nuts. They are talking about the Timothy McVeigh types, not some guy on slashdot who points out 1st amendment protections are being violated. If you notice in the documentary, they are picking out little tidbits from the FBI document - I have a feeling that it seems much less alarming if you look at the whole thing and don't snip little bits out of context.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21498035)

Wrong! Carter didnt let them all out. Reagan cut all the fed budget for mental instituions and that forced all them out onto the streets.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (2, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498837)

You are both wrong (although the first poster is closer), the courts ordered that they be released. The rulings were made in the early to mid 70's. The courts ruled that it was unconstitutional to institutionalize people against their will unless they were a demonstrable danger to society (even if the individual was incapable of taking care of themselves). By the late 70's/early 80's, when the outcome of these rulings became apparent (that most of those individuals who had been institutionalized couldn't take care of themselves), the activists who had led the charge to eliminate the institutions were surprised to discover that the average American wasn't willing to pay them to take care of these people (the average American thought that the institutions were a cost effective method that needed to have the abuses corrected).

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499847)

Ah, thanks for the correction. I was pretty young for Carter, so my memory ain't so good I guess. I thought it had been done at the executive level instead of the judicial.

But who did it wasn't really my point, the quandary of what to do with crazy people was :)

Wow, I actually got made a foe for that post I think - and from a guy that I almost always agree with! (Scudsucker)

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (2, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498899)

lol,,, Nope. The ACLU went to bat for some crazy woman that committed suicide about 9 months after release from an asylum. They took her case to the US supreme court and it was ordered that if they don't pose a threat to themselves or others, then they cannot be detained. This happened in the 60s and the mid 70s. This caused an evaluation of if everyone nutcase locked up and it ended up dumping a shitload of people on the street. The problem had something to do with detaining people that were perfectly fine when under medication but the ACLU's love affair got started earlier with Thorazine and some other drug.

The cut in budgeting was because the residents of the mental institutions went from full to capacity to 30% or so. When reagan was the governor of CA, he took this set of rulings along with the state mental health boards wishes and cut the budget. But this was done as governor not president. The same mental patients were being dumped all around the country when this first started happening. here [claytoncramer.com] is a link to a site that touches on it and Here is another that deals withCalifornia [snopes.com]

What your referring to is actually when the homeless problem was apparent and advocacy groups started lobbying for them. It was like they wanted to redeem their earlier actions. The supposed cuts were actually cuts in increases spending that Reagan rejected. Although the increased asked for was cut, the budget was actually increased but Reagan still took flak over it.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

Lord Flipper (627481) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500973)

Wrong! Carter didn't let them all out. Reagan cut all the fed budget for mental institutions and that forced all them out onto the streets.

AC gets it exactly right, and I'll add that Reagan 'practiced', as Governor, on California, first. Market Street 'screamers' anyone? I knew a majority of my fellow Californians were out iof their trees, but, at the time, never dreamed that a huge majority of Americans were also bona fide mental midgets... and it's been all downhill, with only brief mirages of 'hope', ever since.

It figures that anybody 'crazy' enough to familiarize themselves with "stupid things" [quotationspage.com] like facts, here where the 'smart' guys hang out, on Slashdot, would have to go the AC route... the World's a mess.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21498267)

Put 'em back in the institution

What institutions? Conservatives decided they cost too much and closed them all down.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (2, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499757)

No, that's what happened in your mind. In reality, they were released by the courts.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500337)

No, that's what happened in your mind. In reality, they were released by the courts.

Yes, on a strictly atomic, procedural level, a court decision was the mechanism used to transfer crazy people from mental hospitals to profitably run private jails. It was a lot like Bush vs. Gore which transferred only one crazy person.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506175)

So the ACLU is a conservative organization? They are more-or-less directly responsible for the release of the crazies. Not that I disagree with them, necessarily - it is quite a quandary... not sure what the best thing to do with crazy people is.

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497919)

Don't forget books that discuss even more outrageous material, such as this one [amazon.com] .

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21500421)

Cops need to all read Complete Idiots Guide To The U.S. Constitution [amazon.com] .

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21501033)

I'd be a LOT more concerned if they were buying this:

http://www.amazon.com/StarBird-David-Greenley/dp/0738812439/ref=sr_1_22/002-3699275-9111221?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176468104&sr=8-22 [amazon.com]

(Here's a sample chapter, in case you enjoy pain: http://www2.xlibris.com/bookstore/book_excerpt.asp?bookid=553 [xlibris.com] )

Re:Amazon has dangerous material (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21502161)

Hmmm... and why do you think government is always right?
I remember an incident i read in Presidential Anectodes: Thomas Jefferson was being once raked over coals in press over some remarks he had made. All kinds of insults were being thrusted at him which were lies.
An European minister who came to meet jefferson was surprised at these attacks and asked Jefferson why did he not arrest the seditious editor and supress these papers.
Jefferson replied: "This is why this is US of America and not europe. These people have a constititional right to say anything they want as long as blood is not spilt".

Presidents then were adamant in respecting the constitition, even at the cost of their own reputation & lives.

This is America Right? (3, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497461)

The withdrawal came after a judge ruled the customers have a First Amendment right to keep their reading habits from the government.

We're talking about America right? That happened in America? You're kidding me! The same America with warrantless wiretaps and everything! I don't believe you!

Wait... what's that... fascism does not rule in America like some people on the internet say. You've lost me now. Crackpot!!

Re:This is America Right? (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497633)

Does this mean I no longer have to worry about reading at the airports [slashdot.org] ?

Re:This is America Right? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497653)

The internet should have been IPX-SPX, not TCPIP, and you fucking know it.

Re:This is America Right? (1)

coppro (1143801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497683)

I wonder whether this guy will end up with a warantless wiretap of his very own? 1:10 odds for the end of the year! Odds going as high as 1:1000000 by tommorrow! Get your tickets now!

Re:This is America Right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21498093)

"How dare you suggest that we in the freest nation on Earth live in tyranny."

-The President of the United States (two weeks after the terrorist attack [tinyurl.com] ).

Re:This is America Right? (3, Insightful)

QCompson (675963) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498271)

Wait... what's that... fascism does not rule in America like some people on the internet say. You've lost me now. Crackpot!!
Har Har! See, it's funny because everyone thinks the American government is headed in the wrong direction and people are worried about the loss of civil liberties. However, this one time the Feds weren't able to steamroll through the justice system with excuses about national security, state secrets, and executive power. So therefore all those naysayers were wrong! Everything's a-ok! Don't worry about warrantless wiretapping, telecom immunity, or national security letters. Funny ha-ha!

Re:This is America Right? (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498715)

Blah blah blah. The single "activist judge" who didn't kowtow in this particular instance -- woofuckinghoo for checks and balances.

I'm sorry but this one particular example does, in no way, bring us back on an even playing field prior to the Bush Administration's far-reaching and scary-as-fuck violations of privacy all in the name of the ever so popular terrorism.

Re:This is America Right? (2, Insightful)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498813)

It generally doesn't happen overnight, or all at once. A certain paperhanger and his minions didn't transform Germany in one fell swoop -- it was done gradually, eroding the rights and privacies of the people little by little, step by step, always under the guise of it being for their own good or protection from bad guys. I'm not necessarily making a direct comparison here.....I'm just saying....

Re:This is America Right? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498969)

Actually, the vast majority of what happened in germany did happen over night. I forget the name of the bill, but Hitler convinced the lawmakers to give him power to make laws without them and he did. It was basically done in a few weeks then Hitler took control.

Re:This is America Right? (1)

KnuthKonrad (982937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21505267)

I forget the name of the bill [...]

That one is typically referred to as the Ermächtigungsgesetz [answers.com] .

Re:This is America Right? (2, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499131)

It generally doesn't happen overnight, or all at once. A certain paperhanger and his minions didn't transform Germany in one fell swoop -- it was done gradually, eroding the rights and privacies of the people little by little, step by step, always under the guise of it being for their own good or protection from bad guys. I'm not necessarily making a direct comparison here.....I'm just saying....
Actually, it was pretty close to overnight. The Weimar Republic was never very well supported by the German people. Hitler was appointed Chancellor on January 30, 1933, and his government suspended civil rights on February 28, 1933. The Nazi's got 37% of the vote in November 1932 and those who didn't know what Hitler intended weren't paying attention. The only reason Hindenburg agreed to appoint Hitler Chancellor was because he thought that Hitler could be controlled.

Re:This is America Right? (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500391)

So? these things have been happening since the US was conceived. We've managed to survive thus far. Not that we shouldn't worry, but all this crap about how the world is ending and such and we're a police state and bush is a dictator is all mostly bullshit. Yes you can draw parallels, but you can draw parallels between pretty much any 2 things, and we can still vote and still make a difference, so not all is lost.

Re:This is America Right? (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500771)

It was a joke so don't make to much out of it. Warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition are pretty nasty and unconstitutional. The ones responsible should be put in prison. There's some pretty messed up stuff, but as far as I can remember you still have the right to free travel, the right to call the government fascist if you so choose, the right to ply whatever trade you choose, vote for whoever you choose etc. Do me a favor and get some perspective! Take a look at South Asia and then you'll understand what real dark times are like. I understand we need to take measures to prevent that. Being an alarmist isn't one of these things.

Re:This is America Right? (2, Insightful)

jdjbuffalo (318589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498693)

Just because there is a problem with some parts of the government doesn't mean that the whole government and everyone in it is corrupt.

However, the longer you let corruption fester without confronting it, the more systemic it gets and eventually it will spread to every corner of the government. I don't think we're there yet in this country but unfortunately we are well on our way.

"Evil triumphs when good men do nothing" - Unknown, but often attributed to Edmund Burke

Re:This is America Right? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500967)

Hey, and least Americans (and American companies) care and fight back against governmental abuses like this... take a look at the UK, or mainland Europe, if you want to see a legendary amount of kow-towing to government demands. (You can't really blame China when they never had rights in the first place.)

This doesn't help you seem better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21503281)

Because the warrantless wiretaps will not have gone through a Judge and so the Judge will not be able to stop it.

In this case, the feds couldn't avoid asking the Judge (expect this to change soon, to weed out the terrorists) and so the Judge ruled on it.

This, in fact, makes it WORSE because how many wiretaps would have been legitimately denied by someone who knows the LAW if they'd been able to get to judge on it in the first place?

Google says otherwise (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497473)

Linky. [google.com]

Re:Google says otherwise (0, Troll)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497673)

Goatse.ca!

Re:Google says otherwise (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497725)

We can combat this new technique by right-click-open-in-new-tab all links and making sure the page title is OK. Even if they change it, they cannot always make it relevant very quickly.

Mario bros and your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497587)

I taught your mom how to play Super Mario Bros when she was, like, 7 years old. She was better than you might think...she was smart for her age.

Re:Mario bros and your mom (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497645)

I am having trouble figuring out if there is an innuendo somewhere in that.

Re:Mario bros and your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497705)

Thanks for lending your karma to my post...people may just be interested enough based on your mentioning of innuendo to look up the parent....

Re:Mario bros and your mom (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497773)

I had intended to click the "No Karma Bonus"

Re:Mario bros and your mom (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497827)

YOU FAIL! NO SOUP FOR YOU!

Re:Mario bros and your mom (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498547)

Yup, that's what I did. Now could you please explain it? This oh-so-subtle innuendo (or lack thereof) is absolutely killing me!

Quite easily explained.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21499035)

You just needed to google the keywords. like this [google.com]

Re:Quite easily explained.... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499351)

Seriously, that's just lame. It was smile-worthy at first, gaming the domain display, but now it's old. Besides, it's always so obvious, and goatse just doesn't shock me anymore.

i hear the fags were upset (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497609)

the government knew they were fags when they were buying linux books. they were afraid that dick smokers were going to be thrown into ovens.

Can we elect this guy? (5, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497611)

[U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen] Crocker -- who unsealed documents detailing the showdown against prosecutors' wishes -- said he believed prosecutors were seeking the information for a legitimate purpose. But he said First Amendment concerns were justified and outweighed the subpoena's law enforcement purpose.

"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."

So, not everybody in the American legal system is providing a rubber stamp for Federal nosiness. I can't believe the Feds actually thought this was a viable thing -- perhaps they've been swayed by all the success with warrant-less wiretapping and private snooping. I think this may be representative of a desire by the lower courts to put the breaks on rampant violations of American civil rights. At least, one can hope.

Re:Can we elect this guy? (1)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498237)

Having seen the grand jury process up close, who says it was the Feds driving the request for the info?

Jury = Citizens

Re:Can we elect this guy? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500557)

If we did elect this guy, he'd be screwed up by the same system that screws up most other elected officials. U.S. Federal Judges are able to do politically unpopular things precisely because they're not elected. Once appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, they serve for life, and cannot be removed except by impeachment. Depending on your POV, that's either judicial tyranny or a useful safeguard against mob rule. Though given the number of rabid right-wing ideologues that the Republicans have managed to put on the federal bench, it's no longer much of either, most of the time.

precedence (3, Interesting)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497649)


This sounds factually similar to the Robert Bork video rental disclosure issue. See here. [epic.org]

Woops (2, Interesting)

goingforaslash (1195043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497651)

Another case of the powers at be sitting in a room full of mirrors and muttering "Woops".

Free Speech (0, Troll)

zgregoryg (1061612) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497667)

I'd say this judge does not have a Bush bestowed nickname like ol' Kenny Boy!

Laziness, pure and simple. (2, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497689)

This wasn't a situation where, say, a child is in imminent danger and they need the information now.

It's simply a case of the cops' unwillingness to do some good old-fashioned police work. Good for you, Judge Crocker.

Re:Laziness, pure and simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21498241)

I don't really think a kid is worth giving up the rights of the rest of a nation.

It always starts with good excuses and intentions.

Re:Laziness, pure and simple. (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498743)

I don't really think a kid is worth giving up the rights of the rest of a nation.
That's a dumb, doctrinaire thing to say. Do you really believe that investigating public corruption and tracking down an endangered child are equivalent? I was applauding the judge for recognizing that difference.

Re:Laziness, pure and simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21498991)

"That's a dumb, doctrinaire thing to say."

You are an idiot.

He wasn't saying they were equivalent at all. He was responding to the poster who was made it seem it may be acceptable to step all over the first amendment to save a kid's life. iow, playing the "save the children" card.

"Do you really believe that investigating public corruption and tracking down an endangered child are equivalent?"

Only you and the inept make that conclusion.

Again, in response to the hypothetical that was passively put forward that if a chid's life was in danger then the 1st amendment should/could be thrashed, he was saying that even in that situation, a child's life still doesn't mean the first amendment is thrown out the door and frankly shouldn't be.

And I agree. We have the highest law in the land being thrown about as if it means nothing. And people like yourself so willing to allow them to do so, simply by not understanding simple, common bypass tactics used in the media and prosecutors and those that don't give a damn about the law or principles which they are supposed to uphold.

Re:Laziness, pure and simple. (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499517)

Again, in response to the hypothetical that was passively put forward that if a chid's life was in danger then the 1st amendment should/could be thrashed, he was saying that even in that situation, a child's life still doesn't mean the first amendment is thrown out the door and frankly shouldn't be.
I'll respond to this if only you will tell me what part of the 1st amendment you think I advocate thrashing. To assist you, the First appears in its entirety in another post in this thread.

If your employer shares salary information with the IRS, is he thrashing your 1st amendment rights? How does this differ from Amazon.com transactions?

Re:Laziness, pure and simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21501793)

Your employer isn't doing so without your consent or knowledge. You filled out the tax forms when you started working there (W-2s and W-4s), and your signature authorizes them to release pertinent information with the IRS. I fail to see how your argument holds any water.

Re:Laziness, pure and simple. (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499713)

I think that every time the government takes some of the peoples' rights away, a specially designated group should have the task of killing several hundred children. Then the general public will be outraged that children are actually dying because rights are being taken away, instead of being outraged at the vague possibility that some child may die somewhere and thus allowing rights to be taken away. Of course, this plan will only work until the government takes away the right to kill children...

Re:Laziness, pure and simple. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21503729)

I don't think that this is a productive way of thinking about the problem.

By living with other people, we are forced to make reasonable accommodations in order to respect each others' rights. Stupid and harmful actions by the police are about the most unreasonable thing there is. Trolling through the reading habits of the general populace is about the most unproductive way of locating criminals imaginable; it is bound to flag more innocent people, and subject those people to pointless indignities. It is not only bad for civil liberties, it is inefficient police work.

Let me pose a different scenario in which I think examining somebody's Amazon purchases might be relevant.

Suppose we have determined that some resident of a house planted a bomb; a search warrant produces evidence that the bomb in question was produced in the basement, and turns up books relevant to bomb making and terrorist tactics in the basement bomb factory. However, the house is shared by several people, all of whom deny having any connection to the bomb making materials or books.

In this case, we are looking for specific evidence relevant to a specific, relevant question -- in this case "who in this house owns this book used to build this bomb".

I think the specificity is what matters: that you are looking to answer a question that has come up in an investigation. You shouldn't go looking for any book purchases that might confirm your suspicions in some as-yet-unspecified manner. Unless you know exactly what you are looking for and why, your interpretation of your findings is tainted by your prior suspicion. If you have any imagination at all you certainly will find something that confirms your suspicion.

Perhaps this might be the test: you have to be looking for a specific purchase whose relevance to the investigation has already been established. You can't be looking for the kinds of things somebody buys because this is almost certainly misinformation, and doing so extends the power of the state beyond criminal investigation, making the possession of "suspect" literature tantamount to a crime.

You make it sound (2, Insightful)

Foerstner (931398) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498765)

...as if "a child is in imminent danger" is sufficient cause to abrogate the First Amendment.

Re:You make it sound (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498981)

I do not. What part of

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
do you think I would like to see abrogated, even for the life of a child?

Re:You make it sound (2, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499693)

One way to infringe on my freedom of the press is to outright ban the sale of my book. Another is to have government agents standing in popular bookstores making a show of taking down the names of anyone who buys my book. When the government forces Amazon to give over customer records it infringes the first amendment through this chilling effect, whether the goverment is doing it because a childs life is in immanent danger (Think Of The Children!!!!!one!!) or not.

Re:You make it sound (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500467)

...government agents standing in popular bookstores making a show of taking down the names of anyone who buys my book. When the government forces Amazon to give over customer records it infringes the first amendment through this chilling effect
This is where you're losing me. What would a purchaser of your book have to be afraid of? Gitmo? Waterboarding? Termination with extreme prejudice? Tax audit?

Do you know any victims of Chilling Effect Syndrome?

I would be ashamed of myself if I didn't buy your book because "the government will know about it."

That, incidentally, is the whole point of the first amendment: You can speak|publish|worship freely, and government can't stop you.

You speak of "chilling effects." I'm guessing that if you had actually written a book and "government agents" were stationed at bookstores to take names of those who bought it, you would outsell J. K. Rowling.

Re:You make it sound (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507367)

Perhaps you'd also have no problems with a government agent watching which way you vote?

Spend some time with people from a country where the people are legitimately scared of their government. You'll understand why it's so important to prevent this "chilling effect", and why judges and constitutional scolars take it seriously.

If the government can audit what you read, it becomes unsafe to read or publish books critical of the government, even if it's technically legal.

Judge Backs Amazon, Raps Feds Over Book Records (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497715)

I thought this was something about a guy named Judge playing backup for a band called Amazon, all while someone named Feds rapped over some books on tape. Or something.

That's right! (5, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21497737)

FTFA: "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."

And:"If the government had been more diligent in looking for workarounds instead of baring its teeth when Amazon balked, it's probable that this entire First Amendment showdown could have been avoided," he wrote

Damn straight it is un-American! I just wish the agents and presecutors involved would get reprimanded! Or better yet, fired for incompetence.

Re:That's right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21497955)

"Damn straight it is un-American! I just wish the agents and presecutors involved would get reprimanded! Or better yet, fired for incompetence."

Out of a cannon, into the sun.

Re:That's right! (3, Funny)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498177)

Wait, we're at war with the Sun now? Shit, I'm really behind on my current events! Last I heard we were still working on Terror.

Re:That's right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21501515)

yeah. java slows my browsing down like no other.

Re:That's right! (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21501155)

I guess some of the moderators don't get it.

Fry: What if I don't want to be a delivery boy?
Leela: Then you'll be fired...
Fry: Fine.
Leela: ...out of a cannon, into the sun.

Re:That's right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21499091)

"Damn straight it is un-American! I just wish the agents and presecutors involved would get reprimanded! Or better yet, fired for incompetence."

Umm, they should be disbarred at minimum and prosecuted. 24,000 privacy violations for *tax* evasion (holy hell, talk about passing law in order to run roughshod over the highest law (1st amendment) and rulings (SCOTUS decision on privacy) in the land) and fraud (aka illegal cheating (unlike the legal kind that occurs everyday, like commonplace lying, political handouts, etc.), where you can get more years in jail often times than if you kill someone).

These are supposed to be individuals who are both honor bound and, in many situations, oath bound to uphold justice and the law of the land.

To me, this is like the situation where the fellow caught the cop threatening him with false allegations on wrongdoing doing a traffic stop. Everyone was saying entrapment and excusin the cop, or the cop should be reprimanded or at most, fired. Myself, I was wondering why the SOB wasn't being prosecuted for making threats and fraud and violation of duties of a police officer.

Just more evidence of two different standards held to those in our society. It's not a fair system at all when exception is given because someone is an officer or a prosecutor--those protection laws of those professions were granted to someone who was acting IN GOOD FAITH, not someone looking to abuse or work the system. Looking more and more like those who are supposed to be protecting our rights are violating them and looking more like the criminals they so parade around in PR stunts.

Re:That's right! (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21505453)

(holy hell (1st ...) and rulings (SCOTUS ... ) in the land) (aka ... (unlike t...) ... )

I love scheme too.

How did you get that past the lameness filter?

Re:That's right! (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500569)

Actually, the justice department did fire a whole bunch of prosecutors for "incompetence". Unfortunately, their definition of "incompetence" was "not helping keep the Republican party in power."

Re:That's right! (1)

asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500633)

Damn straight it is un-American! I just wish the agents and presecutors involved would get reprimanded! Or better yet, fired for incompetence.


Or better yet, hanged for treason...

Sounds like a cool judge. (3, Funny)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498443)

The judge wrote, "The [subpoena's] chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America."
"Chilling effect"? "Frost keyboards"?

Oh, man, I want this guy if I'm ever in trouble with the law.

New /. groupthink (2, Interesting)

BooRolla (824295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21498691)

Seriously. We all should be liking Amazon about now (at least for a little bit). They stood up to the Feds even when they really didn't have to beyond the inconvenience.

We can get back to hating them for the single click patent after Christ^H^H^H^H the holidays.

(Interesting note: captcha was 'dogma')

Forget amazon (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499083)

I think I just like that Judge.

Re:New /. groupthink (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499827)

yeah, and DRM on books is just a dystopian nightmare because the Kindle is just so cool..

Re:New /. groupthink (1)

tm2b (42473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21502203)

Indeed.

The /. party line is that because of arcane intellectual property issues unique to their industry, we're supposed to hate Amazon and love Google. But on matters like this where the rubber truly hits the road for setting society-wide precedent, it's not Google who's avoiding being evil.

No need to change "groupthink" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21503443)

because it isn't "hate amazon" that is the "groupthink" you seem to imply but "hate amazon's stupid patenting decisions". In this case, although amazon is still involved, it doesn't involve them patenting anything (I suspect even they would not try to patent "handing over documents to federal investigators"!).

So no need to change groupthink on slashdot.

The groupthink we need to change are

a) the idea there is a groupthink in slashdot
b) the idea that the hate for amazon (or any other corporation) is because OF THE CORPORATION and not because of what the dorporation DID

a) will shut you up so we won't have to have this conversation again.

b) will show that when, say MS does something good (like donate free blank PC's to US schools) we don't mind MS and when the do something bad (like make the donation require a five-year contract for MS Vista/Office/AD/Server/etc) we don't like them. The common thread has nothing to do with the hate (though past actions of the same person is a reason to suspect the best/worst: after all, a habitual liar or psychotic rapist isn't considered "completely safe" when they could be involved again, so why should we treat corps any different?). There are two things involved:

a) the corporation
b) the action

and since the outcome is changed, and the only change is the ACTION, the groupthink must be "I don't like the action I hated the corporation doing when they did it". Not that we don't like the corporation no matter what they did but we just ignore them when we can't complain about them.

Yes, that was long winded but I tried to get a few different ways of saying the same thing in the possibly futile attempt to get you to use your brain for thinking instead of using your prejudices jumping to conclusions.

Oh, t2mb, note that the people apologising for Googles' bad actions are not the same ones as lambasting amazon when they do the same thing. This is why "groupthink" groupthink must die. Take a look at the Google apologists and see if they apologise for amazon/yahoo or whoever doing the same thing, and maybe then you'll find out those who think that pandering to government come what may is the only moral thing to do.

I've always wondered (1)

eeyoredragon (674402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499459)

If "they" give us victories like this to make us more likely to think things are not so bad or getting better while they continue to rape our rights over things they actually give a rat's ass about.

Have you guys thought about this at all? (0, Troll)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499819)

Have you guys thought about this at all?

If Amazon had evidence that linked the guy to fraud, why shouldn't they be asked for it? You guys really want Amazon to be the place where anyone can hide any evidence of any crime?

Discovery of evidence in a court proceeding is not a privacy issue. Since when is privacy a factor in what courts do?

Maybe OJ Simpson should have been able to keep his shoe size private? And why did the court really need to know his relationship to the victims anyway? Let alone where he was at the time of the murders?! Like that was any of the court's business! Pretty soon they'll be asking those questions of all suspected murderers. We better stop it now before you can't get away with murder or fraud any more. I'm outraged.

Re:Have you guys thought about this at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21501345)

Correctly modded Troll, but I'll bite in case you're serious.

There is no small difference between asking Amazon for records regarding ONE individual versus asking Amazon for 25,000 records of countless law-abiding citizens. It is not the suspect's privacy but the privacy of everyone else that is of concern.

Using your OJ Simpson metaphor, this would be like asking 25,000 Americans with OJ's shoe size what they were doing at the time of the murder. Like it matters?

Re:Have you guys thought about this at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21505343)

"for 25,000 records of countless law-abiding citizens"

Not to be pedantic but apparently they weren't countless.:)

But I'm just being picky and you're right, the post you responded to fails to grasp the simple difference between right and wrong.... One versus countable thousands.

chilling effect (1)

mathfeel (937008) | more than 6 years ago | (#21499911)

The judge wrote, "The [subpoena's] chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America."
With the current fed's inaction against global climate change, this effect will be short-lived at best.

Frosting Keyboards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21499991)

The "effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America"

Um, that's not frosting stuck on the keyboards of America, your honor...

Oh good (2, Funny)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21500587)

Now they'll never know about my purchase of "WMDs for Dummies" and "Terrorism for Beginners".

I know i am being a little idealistic here but.. (1)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21502965)

I am a non-us citizen, sometimes shopping at amazon.com (cause it cheaper then most of the other amazons). I might be wrong, but I see no LEGAL or MORAL justification that U.S. government should be able to look into my reading habits.

Now I know, the world is corrupt, and very few things can be legally justified let alone morally. However I'd like to say that find this appalling and disgusting. If the government is so eager to know everything about me, I'd be happy send my stool sample to the white house, every day if need be.


The best way to fight this government need to spy on its citizens would probably be to overload them with info, informing them of every little thing you do.
'Dear mr Government
I just lost about 10,000 cells typing this mail, I thought you would like to know that and put in that file about me that you've been keeping.'

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