The company announced the new policy in a blog post late Thursday afternoon, saying it developed the policy following conversations with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Google had previously said it was unable to release a detailed policy because the Google Books product was incomplete due to the fact that the settlement allowing its Book Search project to display certain types of books has yet to be formally approved.
A few highlights of the new policy, the full text of which can be found here:
Google will not require book searchers to create a Google account if they are viewing pages of books online, browsing books through a university's institution subscription to the book service, or accessing the book service from a public terminal at a library.
If you want to actually buy a book you'll need to have a Google account, but Google will let users remove records of books they have purchased from their accounts and said it will not pass along information about specific books that were purchased to credit card companies.
It's not clear whether these provisions will be enough to quiet those criticizing the settlement on privacy grounds, but it's a step in that direction. The proposed settlement will be debated at a court hearing in New York in October.