The central question in the privacy debate that EFF and our partners at the ACLU of Northern California and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley have been having with Google about Google Book Search is whether this exciting new digital library/bookstore is going to maintain the strong protections for reader privacy that traditional libraries and bookstores have fought for and largely won.
I think I can safely say that I am in agreement with the ACLU and EFF on this one. Warrants, requiring judicial approval, are an important safeguard, although not perfect. They are routine for most investigations of physical locations, and, I think, ought to be so for virtual ones as well.
Of course, this prevents large-scale “data mining” activities by governments, who could conceivable flag suspicious activity for future investigation — but that, I think, is how it should be.
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