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ACLU Submits Statement to House Judiciary Committee on Google Books

Nicole Ozer,
Technology & Civil Liberties Director, ACLU of Northern California
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September 11, 2009

The ACLU submitted a statement to the House Judiciary Committee for yesterday’s hearing on Google Book Search:

The failure of the Settlement to include protections for book records and limitations on data collection, retention, use, and disclosure should be of great concern to this Committee, particularly given the tremendous breadth of the Google Book Search services that will emerge from the Settlement and the likely impact they will have on future authors, readers, libraries, the book market, and broader competition in the online services market.

The ACLU believes the Committee should address the following issues:

  • Government Access. Information about Google Book Search users must not be disclosed to government entities or third parties in a pending civil or administrative action absent a warrant or court order.
  • Use of Data. Just as readers may anonymously browse books in a library or bookstore, readers should be able to search, browse, and preview books on Google Book Search without being forced to identify themselves to Google. Readers should be able to search and preview books without user registration or the affirmative disclosure of any personal information and Google will not connect any information it collects from an individual’s use of Google Book Search with the same individual’s use of other Google services without her or his specific, informed consent.
  • Data Retention. All logging and other information related to individual uses of Google Book Search must be purged no later than 30 days after their use in a manner that ensures that this information cannot be used to connect particular books viewed to particular computers or users.
  • Notice. Consumers must have access to a robust, easy-to-read notice of Google Book Search privacy provisions on the Google Book Search pages themselves.
  • Oversight. Consumers must have access to a document, published annually by Google and available online in a conspicuous and easily accessible area of the Google Book Search website, detailing the type and number of requests Google have received from government entities or third parties seeking information about Google Book Search users.

For more information, please see the ACLU of Northern California’s main Google Books page.

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