Books are books whether we read them in a library or on a Kindle or iPad, but California laws are lagging when it comes to protecting reader privacy in the digital age. Tell Governor Brown to sign the Reader Privacy Act today, and ensure Californians don’t have to compromise their privacy when downloading electronic books, using online book services or even buying books from their local bookstore.
Reading choices reveal intimate facts about our lives—from our political and religious beliefs to our health concerns. Digital books and book services can paint an even more detailed picture—including books browsed but not read, particular pages viewed, how long spent on each page, and any electronic notes made by the reader. But while public library book records are protected from prying eyes, online and offline booksellers and other private digital services are not. And this difference is being exploited: a U.S. attorney demanded Amazon.com turn over book purchase records of 24,000 customers.
Without strong privacy protections, reading records can be increasingly targeted by government surveillance as well as in legal proceedings like divorce cases and custody battles.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and California’s state Constitution have strong legal protections for free speech and privacy for public library books. But when it comes our digital books and books sold by bookstores, the law is lagging behind. We need updated legal protections to safeguard our privacy in the digital age.
Please contact Governor Brown today and urge him to sign the Reader Privacy Bill into law, so Californians can feel comfortable buying books from online booksellers, reading e-books, and adopting new electronic book technology and even reading books the old fashioned way, all without worrying that their personal information will be unprotected.