Is Your E-Book Watching You?

I have a Kindle, an iPhone and a laptop; all of which I read e-books on. I enjoy the convenience of being able to download books immediately and at my convenience. I enjoy getting popular books at a discount and being able to read quite a number of books that interest me for free.  I enjoy being able to move from one device to another device and picking up where I left off on the previous device.

Now, like the TV’s in 1984 that watch the viewer, we find out that our e-books are watching us and the data they are compiling is astounding.

“They know how fast you read because you have to click to turn the page,” says Cindy Cohn, legal director at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It knows if you skip to the end to read how it turns out.”

And obviously where you purchase your e-reader or book from will have a database full of information on YOU.

“[The Kindle] is just one more string in their bow,” says author Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild. “They could tell you with precision the age, the zip codes, gender and other interests of the people who bought my books. Now you can throw on top of that the fact that a certain number of them quit reading at Page 45.”

But more than that simple information is stored in their databases.

According to the NPR article, the day may not be far off when someone’s alibi is called into question because their e-reader’s built in GPS will show that they were not at their alibi location when they claimed to be, but rather were at the point of the crime.

Ultimately, the more networked we become the more personal information we give up to enjoy the benefits of that networking. All that convenience comes with a price and some, like best-selling author Stephen King, acknowledge the duality of the situation.

“Ultimately, this sort of thing scares the hell out of me,”
King says. “But it is the way that things are.”

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