Do you think about reading ebooks and your privacy?
As with any Internet-related device, ebook readers are connected, so therefore your data is being transferred and collected.
But who is collecting and using your reading data?
Every ebook retailer is the answer.
Not only can they record your ebook purchases, which is logical seeing as your purchase was made with a credit card, but they can also record and monitor your ebook reading habits and progress for every individual ebook you have on your device.
This recent article confirms that Kobo has been actively monitoring how much of each individual ebook a buyer reads. Now, I know this is not devastating news, but it does raise the issue of where the limits of privacy start and stop.
As with any collection of personal data, the real debate should be about how the data is collected, and whether users have been made aware that their personal data is being recorded while they are reading ebooks.
In the case of ebooks, I would imagine that very few people would be aware of the fact that their e-reading device is sending data to a processing centre and recording not only what they are reading, but how they are reading.
Data which records every page that is turned seems to me to be going just a little far and is bordering on an invasion of privacy.
Kindle Unlimited is a prime example of monitored reading. So okay, you get lots of ebooks for $9.99 per month, but how is this regulated. Who counts your page reads, which is how the author gets paid. Amazon does, of course.
It also raises the possibility that readers can be tracked by the subject matter they read, and if one takes an extreme possibility, it could be that intelligence agencies could use data such as this to profile people who read about subjects such as terrorism, religion or extreme politics.
I know that the Internet is causing a great deal of concern about online privacy, but extending this access to ebooks is worrying.
At least, there are still real books, which to my mind now make for a much safer and private read.
Related reading: Malware And Viruses – The Price You Pay For Free PDF Books?