Lethem and EFF on why Google Book Search needs privacy guarantees

NPR's Morning Edition did a great segment on the privacy concerns raised by Google's deal with publishers and authors to make books available as search-results. I love the idea in principle, but I'm really worried that Google won't put a decent privacy policy in writing — for example, they won't promise to keep your reading history (which potentially includes the search terms you used, the pages you viewed, etc) secret from warrantless police requests.

EFF legal director Cindy Cohn and author Johnathan Lethem do a fine job of explaining why this matters and what we'd like from Google in order to withdraw our legal objection to the settlement.

Lethem is one of several authors — including Michael Chabon and Cory Doctorow — who have signed on to a campaign to pressure Google Books to offer greater privacy guarantees for its readers. The effort was organized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"They know which books you search for," says Cindy Cohn, legal director for the foundation. "They know which books you browse through; they know how long you spend on each page."

It's the same kind of information that's produced by someone surfing the Web. But Cohn believes books should enjoy greater privacy.

The EFF and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California want Google to keep reader data for less time than normal Web searches. Ideally, they say, the data should be deleted after a month.

Google Deal With Publishers Raises Privacy Concerns

(Thanks, Hugh!)