MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Federal prosecutors have withdrawn a subpoena seeking the identities of thousands of people who bought used books through online retailer Amazon.com Inc, newly unsealed court records show.
The withdrawal came after a judge ruled the customers have a First Amendment right to keep their reading habits from the government.
Seattle-based Amazon said in court documents it hopes Judge Stephen Crocker's decision will make it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain records involving book purchases. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said Tuesday he doubted the ruling would hamper legitimate investigations.
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.
Please don't be lulled into any false sense of security because this latest little federal spy expedition was thwarted. A government that wants this kind of power over its citizen isn't going to let some little pesky court order stop it.
I'm a compulsive book buyer, and have purchased and sold books on Amazon.com for years. This afternoon I went through a list of what I've bought or put on my wish list, and what kind of profile I'd fit based on my book purchases. It isn't pretty, so if you are one of the few people who have a pleasant image of me, please turn back now.
Over the last year, I bought at least a dozen books on ritual magick, several books of an sex or erotic literature, two wilderness survival guides (you know it's a genuine survival guide when the first page contains a warning that due to disease, the reader should only eat rats as a last resort), two books on archery, about ten adult and children's novels, including The Golden Compass, six books on sewing and handcrafts, five books on gardening, two book on Latin and three books catering to my inner anarchist, including the The Book of Lies and the Anarchist's Cookbook.
So I suppose to a literary profiler, this would make me a sex-crazed witch with anti-government tendencies, armed with survival and crafting abilities to be used in my impending war against the local law enforcement agencies, who will need backup once I start shooting hexes and arrows at them from behind the tomato plants. And that children's literature I bought? Pfft. That's just a cover that allows me to walk the streets undetected for What I Am - a pagan anarchist with mad sewing skills, a walking, talking threat to the Establishment if there ever was one. A threat that will only be realized when it's too late..
Now, I don't know what your reading profile would say about you, but you might want to take a look and remove that Bushisms calendar you put on your wish list. Or at least balance it with some writings by Ann Coulter or some other author in the GOP Circle Jerk. After all, it's what all the Good Little Soldiers are reading.
Besides, unless you're reading something wrong, you don't have anything to worry about? Right?....Right?...