Is Google Book Settlement A Privacy Threat?

by on September 5, 2009 · 7 comments

September 8 — this Tuesday — is the deadline for filing objections against the Google Book Settlement. A number of trade associations, corporations, authors, and advocacy groups have weighed in, including thebook-385_609771a Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. They argue that approving the Google Book Settlement in its current form, without explicitly spelling out data collection practices, would endanger user privacy. EFF and ACLU have threatened to file an objection to the Settlement unless Google commits to a stringent privacy policy for Google Book Search.

I think the privacy risks posed by Google Book Search are being blown out of proportion, as I explained in the Examiner Opinion Zone last month. While EFF and others have raised some legitimate fears about the possibility of government getting its hands on Google Book Search user data, these privacy concerns are not unique to Google Book Search, nor are they legitimate grounds for the court to reject the Google Book Settlement.

In a letter I submitted yesterday as an amicus curiae brief to U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, who is presiding over the Google Books case, I argue that privacy concerns should not determine the court’s evaluation of the Settlement:

Competitive Enterprise Institute Letter

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