August 5, 2009
Tell Google You Want At Least as Much Privacy When Reading Books Online as You Have When Reading Print Books in Your Library
EFF, the ACLU of Northern California and the Samuelson Clinic at UC Berkeley have sent a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt demanding that Google take specific steps to protect Book Search users' freedom to read privately. They are demanding that Google only respond to legitimate government warrants and have requested that Google not share user private reading data with third parties without reader permission.
1) Protection Against Disclosure: I should be able to use Google books without worrying that the government or a third party is reading over my shoulder. Google needs to promise that it will protect my reading records by responding only to properly-issued warrants from law enforcement and court orders from third parties, and that it will let me know if anyone has demanded access to information about me.
2) Limited Tracking: Just as I can anonymously browse books in a library or bookstore, I should be able to search, browse, and preview Google books without being forced to identify myself to Google. I should not have to register or provide any personal information, and Google should not keep logging information for any of its services longer than 30 days. Google should also not link any information it does collect about my use of Google Book Search to my usage of any other Google services without my specific, affirmative consent.
3) User Control: I should have complete control of my purchases and purchasing data. I should be able to delete my records and have extensive permissions controls for my "bookshelves" or any other reading displays. I should be able to "give" books to anyone, including to myself, without tracking. Google also shouldn't reveal any information about my Google book use to credit card processors or any other third parties.
I will be keeping track of Google in the coming weeks, and I look forward to seeing strong, user-focused privacy standards for this important and exciting new service.
Great idea. [JH]
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