A new report shows that almost all such devices monitor users’ activity. This doesn’t really bother me, but should I be more worried?
In the light of a feature I wrote this summer, about how our e-readers can track our reading habits – complete, I’m ashamed to say, with the obligatory Orwell references – I thought I’d point anyone who’s interested in the direction of this new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
It’s the organisation’s latest guide to e-reader privacy policies, including Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo and Sony, and it finds that “in nearly all cases, reading ebooks means giving up more privacy than browsing through a physical bookstore or library, or reading a paper book in your own home”.
There’s a handy chart, detailing privacy policies for nine different e-reading options; my own choice, the Kobo, “seems to have the capability to keep track of book searches because it indicates that it shares those searches with third parties”, while the Kindle “logs data on products viewed and/or searched for on the device, and associates info with Amazon account”.
This is information that I’m glad I know, but about which I’m afraid I can’t get all that exercised. To be honest, anyone looking at what I bookmark and make notes on would be totally bemused – I often am, myself, when I look back. I feel there are bigger things to worry about than whether Kobo knows what page of Fifty Shades (no, not really) I’m currently on, or if the Amazon lot are astonished to see that not only has my husband got all the paper editions of the George RR Martin books, but he’s just bought them all as ebooks as well as they were “too heavy to carry to work”. And if, in the sheer deluge of books out there, it means these companies can better point me towards things I might like, then I’m not complaining. (At the moment Amazon is recommending I buy five books I can actually see, at this second, on my shelves, and which I’m sure I’ve already bought from them. Yes, I liked them – but it seems a bit of a waste… )
But anyway. Useful information from the EFF, which we should all be armed with, whatever we want to do with it. Here it is again. Have a read – and let me know if you think I should be more fussed …