Are e-books a privacy threat?

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How much privacy are you ceding when you read electronic books?

One Response to “Are e-books a privacy threat?”

  1. Aaron Reichow says:

    The problem with this kind of story is that it presents a false dichotomy: use e-books and cede your privacy and rights of ownership; or continue to use paper books. That’s simply not the case.

    I’ve been reading e-books on portable devices for 10 years; not once have I been at risk of giving up my rights or ceding privacy, at least not in the manner brought up in articles like this one. These days, I’ve been reading e-books on my iPhone using an application called GoodReader.

    There’s no risk of the content owner, distributor, or publisher revoking my license and deleting the content, tracking my reading habits, or compiling a central database of what I’m reading; no vendor lock-in, no being locked into a particular format, and I’ve never lost the ability to read a book when moving to a newer device, platform, or application.

    And no, I’m not only only reading content from Project Gutenberg. I’ve over 400 novels over these last 10 years and most of them were published between 1990-2010. Out of that 400+ only half a dozen of them were on paper, the rest were on a variety of PDA and smartphone devices.

    Perhaps if technology journalists begun to present the issue correctly the industry would start moving in a better direction. It’s not privacy and paper vs e-books and no privacy- it’s the product visions of the Kindle, Nook and iTunes Music Store against freer models in which the consumer retains the kind of fair-use rights and privacy that they have with printed books and CDs. When digital music comes up, you don’t see the same kinds of stories (“Is digital music a privacy threat?”), confusing the issue by lumping together the iTunes Music Store, ripped CDs, and DRM-free mp3 purchases.