| Thursday July 24th 2014

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The EFF ebook buyer’s guide to privacy


eBook privacy chart

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has pored over the terms of service for several popular ebook services and devices and come up with “An E-Book Buyer’s Guide to Privacy,” a handy chart that tells you what information about your reading habits you “agree” to send to these companies by simply standing in the vicinity of the device, clicking a link, or, in some cases, breathing.

In other words, your Kindle will periodically send information about you to Amazon. 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. Some security researchers have indicated that the Kindle may even be tracking its users’ GPS locations. Is this the future of reading?Thankfully, there are some e-reader options that do not connect wirelessly, nor include any privacy or “terms of use” provisions that allow monitoring of what you put on the device or how you use it. Sony’s Reader, for example, may collect information about what books you buy from its own eBook Store, yet the Reader also works with books purchased from other sources as well. Even safer still, popular e-reader software programs, such as open-source FBReader, allow users to download content from a number of sources onto a multitude of devices, including one’s computer or mobile, without handing over all information about their reading habits to one source, or anyone for that matter.

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