National Coalition of Authors Urge Rejection of Google Book

Electronic Frontier Foundation


The group of more than two dozen authors and publishers, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Samuelson clinic), filed an objection to the settlement today. The coalition is concerned that Google’s collection of personal identifying information about users who browse, read, and make purchases online at Google Book Search will chill their readership.


In the objection filed today, the coalition asks the court to require Google to create a robust privacy policy that gives readers as much privacy in online books as they have in a library or a bookstore and to ensure that the policy is enforceable and overseen by the court on an ongoing basis. The authors and publishers present a list of privacy protections that would improve the settlement, including limiting tracking of users by 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. After much pressure from EFF, ACLU, the Samuelson clinic, and others, Google finally issued a privacy policy for Google Books on September 3, 2009. However, that policy doesn’t guarantee that Google will require court approval before disclosing reader information, and it doesn’t sufficiently limit Google’s retention of that information. It is also changeable by Google at any time.