This post, by Ariel Bogle, originally appeared on the the Melville House Books site on 1/23/12.
It’s almost impossible to resist peeking at a friend’s bookshelf when we’re invited into their home. But this sentiment becomes a little scarier when it isn’t a welcome guest snooping on us and noting that dog-eared copy of Harry Potter, but a mega-corporation who might sell such information to the highest-bidder.
MobyLives has always endeavored to keep track of the fast-moving privacy issues affecting ebook readers. In this 2010 report, for example, Moby was concerned about the amount of information Amazon’s Kindle recorded about its customers. Beyond the reader’s name, email, address and credit card details, the Kindle records book searches and notes reader annotations, as well as the exact books and pages read. In a worrying twist — hidden in the fine print — Amazon reserves the right to share that information with law enforcement agencies, civil litigants and with Amazon’s own product suppliers.
This is alarming — what you read can reveal a lot about you. While librarians and bookstore owners fight ongoing battles against disclosing information about their customers, most companies that develop electronic reading devices are missing in action when it comes to bringing privacy protections into the digital realm.