Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Jennifer Elmore


Historically, reader privacy has been heavily protected in the United States. Numerous library laws, bookstore laws, and Supreme Court opinions have affirmed and upheld reader privacy for traditional paper books. However, electronic readers and electronic books are becoming increasingly popular. These new devices are undoubtedly beneficial; however, with this new technology comes increased privacy concerns. The electronic format allows the reading and purchasing habits of consumers to be tracked in a way that was formerly impossible with traditional books. Electronic readers often track which books are purchased, which pages are read, and more. Additionally, the laws that apply to traditional paper books are not adequately protecting readers of electronic books. Instead, each electronic reader manufacturer is creating their own privacy policy that generally allows them to store and use personal consumer data however they wish. This note contrasts the lack of protection for electronic books to the strong protection afforded to traditional paper books. To correct this disparity, this note advocates amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and educating consumers about electronic reader privacy.