Consumers mulling whether or not to license book titles through Google Book Search or purchase an electronic reader such as the Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook may want to take the privacy policies of those services and devices into account before they do so.
Privacy watchdogs at the Electronic Frontier Foundation argue that while e-reader technologies are a hot item for the 2009 holiday season, the services and devices that let readers access and view digital books threaten consumers' privacy.
Ed Bayley, an adjunct attorney for the EFF, in a blog post Dec. 21 said e-readers collect "substantial information about their users' reading habits and locations" and report back to the companies that build or sell these technologies. To educate users, the EFF created a Buyer's Guide to E-Book Privacy to shed some light on what information existing e-readers "reserve the right to collect and share."
The Google Book Search project is Google's broad effort to scan out-of-print books and offer them to users online for fees. The project is on hold while the search engine and the New York District Court hash out a renegotiation, and won't be finalized until 2010.
Bayley also noted in the Buyer's Guide that information on Google Book Search users is available to the Book Rights Registry, a not-for-profit group that represents book rights holders, and third-party service providers. Google denied this in a statement sent to eWEEK.