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If you bought a dildo in Denver, the government must legally be told

Published: December 18, 2016
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Source: The Register

Online retailers in America will soon be required by law to disclose to state governments what purchases their customers – meaning, you – have made.

That extraordinary situation is the result of a long-running legal case that the US Supreme Court this week refused to hear. This means a decision by the Tenth Circuit [PDF] requiring out-of-state retailers to report to the Colorado state government the details of all purchases – including what that purchase was and who bought it – stands.

So if you bought a dildo in Denver, some bureaucrat is going to be informed about it.

Colorado is not the only state pushing the requirement. Vermont will also make the same requirement three months after Colorado starts imposing the law. And other states including Alabama, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming have approved similar rules.

Unsurprisingly, businesses and privacy advocates are up in arms.

The executive director of NetChoice – a trade association of e-commerce businesses that includes eBay, PayPal, Google and Facebook as members – Steve DelBianco, said the decision "set the stage for a rude privacy shock to American consumers."

"State governments will receive data about residents' purchases, including personal health products and politically-themed books and movies," DelBianco noted.

The exec director of the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA), Hamilton Davison, is also extremely concerned. "Consumers, particularly those who buy from catalogs and e-commerce merchants, put considerable trust in the businesses from which they make the most personal of purchases," he noted. "This decision undermines this trust by requiring remote sellers to report to state tax collectors on the buying habits of their customers, including health care products, apparel or other sensitive items."

Why?

The idea behind the law is for state governments to be able to claim sales tax on purchases from companies that do not have a physical presence in the state.

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