NPR thinks your e-reader is spying on you

Don't you just love what passes for journalism these days? The show "All Things Considered" ran a piece yesterday about how ereaders can track everything you do and report back to the manufacturer. I wouldn't listen to it if I were you unless you like being amused by idiots.

Leaving aside the paranoia, this article was also factually wrong on multiple points.

Most ereaders have some kind of antenna: cell phone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, sometimes all three. To Cindy Cohn, a lawyer with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, those antennas are a threat to the inherent privacy of the act of reading a book.

Really? So the Sony Readers, Pocketbook (older models), Jetbook, Hanlin, and Hanvon have antennas?

And it's not just what pages you read; it may also monitor where you read them. Kindles, iPads and other ereaders have geo-location abilities; using GPS or data from Wi-Fi and cell phone towers, it wouldn't be difficult for the devices to track their own locations in the physical world.

The Kindle doesn't have geolocation abilities. The trick it uses with cell towers doesn't work well, and using Wifi to pin down a location doesn't work as well as you think.


I'm going to stop here. The rest of my post showed me getting more and more irritated at this idiocy, so it's better off unwritten.

But I will say this. I remember when the EFF first came out with the ereader's guide to privacy. The hysterical comments some people made sounded much like the story above.  Why can't everyone put this in perspective?

Do you have a credit card, store cards, and a cell phone? Then you're already being tracked to a fare thee well. Adding an ereader to the mix won't make a difference. If you're obsessing over it, stop. Deal with the other problems first.


About Nate Hoffelder (11466 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on NPR thinks your e-reader is spying on you

  1. But that’s all part of the hassle of being an “early adapter” to use the reporter’s phrase.

  2. Hey, there’s plenty of idiots who like to be amused by idiots saying idiotic things! It’s easier than reading or trying to squeeze out an original thought of their own…

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