As part of an investigation into the online book selling habits of Robert D’Angelo, a man who has been indicted on tax evasion and mail fraud charges, the FBI was 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, including the names of thousands of buyers.
Luckily for its customers’ peace of mind, Amazon has managed to halt
this particular probe in court after US Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker ruled customers have a First Amendment right to keep their reading habits from the government and that allowing such a request to go forward could scare people away from e-commerce overall.
Amazon instead offered to inform its customers of the FBI’s request and let them decide if they wanted to help the authorities. The real kicker though, is that the FBI rejected this offer after they found the information they needed sitting on one of D’Angelo’s seized computers, leading Judge Crocker to criticize them for not discovering such alternatives before pushing at Amazon.