Digital Books: A New Chapter for Reader Privacy

Nicole Ozer, DIGITAL BOOKS: A NEW CHAPTER FOR READER PRIVACY, ACLU of Northern California, March 2010

15 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2010 Last revised: 28 Oct 2012

See all articles by Nicole Ozer

Nicole Ozer

ACLU of Northern California

Date Written: March 30, 2010

Abstract

What you choose to read says a lot about who you are, what you value, and what you believe. That is why you should be able to read about anything from politics to health without worrying that someone is looking over your shoulder. However, as books move into digital form, new reader privacy issues are emerging. In stark contrast to libraries that retain as little information about readers as possible, digital book services are capturing detailed information about readers including who they are, what books they browse and read, how long a given page is viewed, and even the notes written in the “margins.” Without strong privacy protections, all of this browsing and reading history can be collected and analyzed and could end up in the hands of the government or third parties without the reader’s knowledge or consent. Retaining and strengthening reader privacy in the digital age requires a thorough examination of the potential privacy and free speech implications of digital book services and the establishment of laws and policies that properly protect readers.

Digital Books: A New Chapter for Reader Privacy is the second in a series of issue papers by the ACLU of Northern California that discuss new technology trends and their consequences. This paper examines the history of reader privacy and explores opportunities for consumers, businesses, and policymakers to work together to update and enhance these protections.

Part I of this paper discusses the history of strong legal and policy protections for reader privacy. Part II covers the emerging privacy issues related to digital book services, and Part III evaluates whether existing legal protections are sufficient to address these issues. Finally, Part IV proposes policy and legislative steps that should be taken to safeguard reader privacy for the digital age.

Keywords: Digital Books, Reader Privacy, Technology, Amazon, Google Books, ACLU of Northern California, dotRights

JEL Classification: F00

Suggested Citation

Ozer, Nicole, Digital Books: A New Chapter for Reader Privacy (March 30, 2010). Nicole Ozer, DIGITAL BOOKS: A NEW CHAPTER FOR READER PRIVACY, ACLU of Northern California, March 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1611849

Nicole Ozer (Contact Author)

ACLU of Northern California ( email )

39 Drumm Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.aclunc.org/tech

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