Amended Google Book Settlement: Doesn't Deal with Privacy Problems

(Originally posted on the ACLU of Northern California's Bytes & Pieces blog.)

The Amended Google Book Search Settlement, filed with the Court on Friday, November 13, does not resolve the privacy concerns.

The ACLU, along with EFF and the Samuelson Clinic, have been working to ensure that Google Book Search does not become a one-stop shop for government surveillance into the reading habits of millions of Americans and pushing for robust privacy and free speech safeguards to be included in the settlement provisions.

Read more about the necessary safeguards here and in our Opposition Brief to the Settlement (PDF) filed on behalf of author and publisher members of the class.

One of our core privacy concerns with the Settlement has been that reading records are not properly protected from disclosure to the government and third parties. Readers should be able to use Google Book Search without worrying that the government or a third party is reading over their shoulder. No settlement should be approved that allows reading records to be disclosed without a properly-issued warrant from law enforcement and court orders from third parties.

The amended settlement does not resolve this concern, with its only new privacy provision being the following:

"The revised agreement includes language that specifies that Google will not share any private information with the Registry without valid legal process." See Google's FAQ on the Settlement here.

Google's privacy policy does not resolve this concern either. See our blog post here and Statement to the House Judiciary Committee here.

Nor does its statements to the FTC here.

Tell Google that you don't approve of this latest deal- that you won't pay for digital books with your privacy and free speech. Send a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt here.

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