Kindle and User Privacy

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-12-22 Print this article Print

Meanwhile,'s Kindle poses a different set of risks. The Kindle licenses books and other content for wireless download through its Kindle Store; the content can only be used on the Kindle to which it was licensed. This means "knows" what books and content a user has licensed.

Specifically, the Kindle's software provides with data about purchases readers make through the Kindle Store, content stored on the device and how licensees used the content.

For example, tracks "automatic bookmarking of the last page read and content deletions from the device" and backs up users' "annotations, bookmarks, notes [and] highlights," among other information, according to the Kindle License Agreement and Terms of Use as cited by the EFF.

"In other words, your Kindle will periodically send information about you to Amazon," Bayley wrote. "But exactly what information is sent? Amazon's wording-'information related to the content on your device and your use of it'-reads so broadly that it appears to allow Amazon to track all content that users put on the device, regardless of whether that content is purchased from Amazon." did not respond to eWEEK's request for comment. Meanwhile, an Israeli hacker cracked the Kindle's DRM, which means people can take their book content and put it on another device.

Bayley had less to say about the Barnes & Noble Nook, shipments of which have been delayed until January 2010, because the company has not released specific terms of use or a privacy policy for the device.

However, the Buyer's Guide noted that Barnes & Noble logs data on searches made and pages viewed on the company's Website, and tracks book purchases through the membership loyalty program.

Bayley did give some e-readers high marks on the privacy front, noting that Sony's Reader does not track book searches or record information about content users download to the device.

However, it is clear he and the EFF are demanding that Google and rewrite their existing privacy policies.

The EFF prefers that Google not track and store data on Google Book Search users' content consumption, and that be more explicit about what information it does track to let users decide if they are comfortable using the Kindle.


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