National Public Radio / December 15 2010 / Martin Kaste
E-books are quickly going mainstream: ... . It's easy to imagine a near future in which paper books are the exception, not the norm. But are book lovers ready to have their reading tracked?
Most e-readers, like Amazon's Kindle, have an antenna that lets users instantly download new books. But the technology also makes it possible for the device to transmit information back to the
Checking Someone's Alibi, Tracking A Device
Cohn says this kind of page-view tracking may seem innocuous, but if the company keeps the data long-term, the information could be subpoenaed to check someone's alibi, or as evidence in a lawsuit.
And it's not just what pages you read; it may also monitor where you read them. Kindles, iPads and other e-readers have geo-location abilities; [snip].
But it's hard to find out what kind of data the e-readers are sending. Most e-book companies refer all questions about this to their posted privacy policies. The policies can be hard to interpret, so Cohn and the EFF created a side-by-side comparison. [snip]
E-Reader Data Collection
Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony declined NPR's request for an interview about e-reader data. But some other companies, including Google and Apple, agreed to take a few questions by e-mail.
Here are some of the responses NPR received regarding data that's being collected by e-readers:
Amazon's Dominant Role
Amazon now dominates the e-book market, thanks to its popular Kindle e-readers. And many in the publishing business believe the company has built a vast database about the reading public, using information from the online store and reading data from the Kindle.
Many in the publishing industry believe Amazon has a vast database about the reading public, using information from the online store and reading data from the Kindle.
A Future Of 'Social Reading'
Some in the publishing industry look forward to a new age of "social reading," in which devices allow readers to share their reactions with each other. And the author might be interested in seeing a graph of the page-turns of thousands of people as they read his latest novel.