Wednesday, December 15, 2010

NPR > Is Your E-Book Reading Up On You?

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
manufacturer.

[snip]

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]

[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:

[snip]

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.

[snip]

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.

[snip]

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.

[snip]

Source

[http://www.npr.org/2010/12/15/132058735/is-your-e-book-reading-up-on-you]

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