Is Google Watching Your Library Visits?

(via Google Weblog)
Daniel Brandt at Google-Watch points out the possibility that Google’s personally identifiable cookie could enable the FBI or other government authorities to see what books you read using Google Library via a subpoena. His particular concern is the chilling affect on one’s ability to freely read “literature that has political content or relevance.” From his letter sent to the American Library Association:

…It is my feeling that those librarians who contract with Google for access to their books and documents for purposes of digitization should require that any future searches done on Google that produce this material, must respect the anonymity of the searcher. This would mean that Google cannot record the IP address or unique ID from the cookie for such searches. Short of this, another alternative would be for libraries to deny Google access to any literature that has political content or relevance….What, for example, would prevent Google from supplying to the FBI a list of those who read Marx, if required to do so by subpoena?

…I’m aware that the ALA is already involved with discovery and lobbying on this issue with the Justice Department over practices that grew out of the USA Patriot Act. But keep in mind that the scale of anything Google does is a million times larger than the scale of anything that involves discrete libraries, access to paper hard copy, and occasional subpoenas for specific information. Perhaps the scale of what Google does is even ten million times larger….

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