You’ve probably already read the hot story today. The Wall Street Journal just noticed that the major ereader companies can track what and how you’re reading. It’s causing all sorts of buzz as it gets reposted on tech blogs. Everyone is reporting on how we suddenly no longer have any privacy.
Folks, I don’t see how this is actually new news, but I’m going to jump on the bandwagon anyway. WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!
But seriously, this is one of those types of stories that gets revived every once in a long while, covered intensively by blogs, and then forgotten by the following week. This particular topic has popped up at least once before, and probably more often than that.
The last time I recall this topic scaring everyone was in December 2009. The EFF released a chart comparing the relative lack of privacy of the then 5 major ebook platforms. There’s also a second chart from January 2010 which had much more data (FBReader was included but not Kobo or iBooks).
But do you know what gets me? It’s not that this is a non-news story; no. I’m astounded by the fact that no one is putting it into perspective. For example, for the longest time now B&N has been sending out marketing emails based on past purchases and even your searches in the Nook Store. And even Amazon pitches ebooks to you based on what you read.
Now, you might argue that today’s news involves a much deeper look into what readers are doing, but that’s not the case.
Kobo in particular has been doing exactly what is described in this article for at least 18 months now – quite openly, too. That’s how long they’ve been issuing badges based on your reading accomplishments. Kobo can do that because the “Reading Life” feature watches readers very closely. Note that this isn’t just for info you choose to share; it also includes pretty much anything you do with their app or ereader.
And even the detail about B&N sharing info with publishers is nothing new; the new ebookstore Bilbary has been doing that since it launched. That was even one of the points pitched to publishers when they were being signed.
What’s more, we live in a day and age where every electronic activity is tracked: credit cards, web browsing, social networking, everything. I would think that most people would assume they’re being tracked; I means, how else could Google serve up the ads you see on search pages and in Gmail?
image by xddorox