Reader Privacy Act Catapults Out of California Assembly!

Aug 31, 2011
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

Today, California lawmakers took an important step towards updating reader privacy for the digital age. The California Assembly passed the Reader Privacy Act of 2011 (SB 602) with a strong bipartisan vote of 60-13.

The Reader Privacy Act is authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), co-sponsored by the ACLU of California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and supported by diverse organizations and companies, from the Consumer Federation of California and California Library Association to Google and TechNet.

The Reader Privacy Act would update California state law to ensure that government and third parties cannot demand access to Californians' reading records without proper justification. It would also provide greater 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.

We applaud the California Assembly for passing this bill with such a strong bipartisan vote. Please learn more about the Reader Privacy Act and contact Governor Brown today. Urge him to sign this important privacy bill into law and ensure that digital book upgrades don't lead to reader privacy downgrades!