The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), those defenders of online free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights, have begun an action to tell Google to protect reader privacy. Please sign the petition and send a clear message to Google CEO Eric Schmidt to protect reader privacy.
- Protect your reading records from government and third party fishing expeditions by responding only to properly-issued warrants and court orders, and by letting you know if someone has demanded access to information Google has collected about you.
- Make sure that you can still browse and read anonymously by not forcing you to register or give personal information and by deleting any logging information for all services after a maximum of 30 days.
- Separate data related to Google Book Search from any other information the company collects about you, unless you give it express permission.
- Give you the ability to edit and delete any information collected about you, transfer books from one account to another without tracking, and hide your “bookshelves” or other reading lists from others with access to your computer.
- Keep Google Book Search information private from third parties like credit card processors, book publishers, and advertisers.
And since Google is clearly angling itself as a “library” — even publishing a “Google librarian newsletter”! — I would ask all who submit an EFF petition to include the American Library Association’s (ALA) Library Bill of Rights and a link to the ALA Intellectual Freedom Manual, which states:
Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association. The courts have established a First Amendment right to receive information in a publicly funded library. Further, the courts have upheld the right to privacy based on the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. Many states provide guarantees of privacy in their constitutions and statute law. Numerous decisions in case law have defined and extended rights to privacy.
In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf.
Protecting user privacy and confidentiality has long been an integral part of the mission of libraries. The ALA has affirmed a right to privacy since 1939. Existing ALA policies affirm that confidentiality is crucial to freedom of inquiry. Rights to privacy and confidentiality also are implicit in the Library Bill of Rights’ guarantee of free access to library resources for all users.
—Privacy: an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
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