Google Book Search and privacy for students

Parker sez, "Although the Google Books Settlement is being modified, the questions it raises are important for students to think about. Students for Free Culture, in the interest of better informing students about the settlement, has solicited the thoughts of a variety of experts who are providing guest posts reflecting on how the settlement will likely impact students. This is the second installment in the series, from EFF's Rebecca Jeshke, and it talks about the privacy issues involved. All of last week and this week, we'll be posting other responses from people like Google's Derek Slater, and NYLS' James Grimmelman, about different facets of the settlement."
In the physical world, bookstores and libraries have fought for strong privacy protections, requiring the police to get a warrant before getting access to your reading records. These strong positions were developed precisely to respect our private, personal relationship with reading and learning, and to block any "chilling effect" violating that privacy might have on Americans' right to explore the world of ideas. That's why Google Book Search needs a robust, enforceable privacy policy that gives readers as much privacy in online books as we already have today.

A legal settlement that would pave the way for Google Book Search to go forward without these privacy protections is pending approval from a New York federal district court. But a group of more than two dozen authors and publishers, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and others, has filed an objection with the judge. The coalition--including best-selling novelists Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem along with Anthony Romero of the ACLU and science fiction author Cory Doctorow--presents a list of privacy protections that would improve the settlement, including limiting tracking of users and requiring a court order or judge-approved warrant before disclosure of the information collected, ensuring user control of personal information stored by Google, and making the system transparent to readers.

GBS and Students: EFF's Rebecca Jeschke on Privacy Implications (Thanks, Parker!)


  1. Some years ago I had a brief meeting with a major author who’d had many books on the best seller list. I mentioned about 6 of his earlier books and he said, “They’re all out of print.”
    The value to what Google is trying to do is that an author would never be “out of print”.
    On privacy, the idea is good but I’m afraid privacy is gone forever. It’s just good for paper mills who supply the paper on which privacy notices are given.

  2. You’re gonna need to worry about privacy if the books you get aint the books you search for… Google Books: A Metadata Train Wreck …”But officer I downloaded [Insert Title Here] by mistake!”

    Anyway we all know whose fault the errors are, those pesky luddite Librarians, ever since the Google Scholar Disaster

    Lets re-invent the wheel and throw out the fruits of a few thousand years of know-how about making information accessible and searchable eh? Google?


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