Good News for Reader Privacy: Reader Privacy Act Passes Senate Judiciary Committee
Yesterday, California lawmakers took an important first step towards updating reader privacy for the digital age. The California Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Reader Privacy Act of 2011 (SB 602) with a strong bipartisan vote of 4-0.
Authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), and co-sponsored by the ACLU California affiliates and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Reader Privacy Act would update California state law to ensure that government and third parties cannot demand access Californians' reading records without proper justification. It would also provide more notice and transparency about when and how often government and third parties are demanding reading records. (Learn more about the bill here.)
The books we read reveal private, often sensitive information about our political and religious beliefs, our health concerns, and our personal lives. And throughout history, government and third parties have tried to collect records [pdf] of these reading habits to monitor activists and trample unpopular ideas and beliefs. That's why California law has long recognized the importance of safeguarding reading records and other expressive material. Now it's time to modernize those safeguards to match the way we buy and read books today.
The Committee's vote is a good start, but there's still more work to be done before this bill becomes law. Please learn more about Reader Privacy Act and tell your state lawmakers to support this bill and ensure that digital book upgrades don't lead to reader privacy downgrades!