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Old 08-03-2009, 03:00 PM   #1
coleman
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New to Kindle...privacy implications

So because I've lost my Sony Reader, it looks like I'm trying out a Kindle next. Given the recent 1984 bit, and what I've been reading, I am confused on one part. What is Amazon able to do/learn about things that you put on the Kindle yourself via USB? I am fine with them knowing what I buy from them, that's just going to be a given. But I'm not sure how I feel about them being able to exercise interactions with any other content on the device. Presumably it's possible, but has anything been said about that?

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Old 08-03-2009, 03:33 PM   #2
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They could gather data about that if they want. I've seen no indication that they do. I have quite a few books I've loaded on my Kindle that have the DRM removed and there's never been a fuss. They're books that aren't available without DRM but I acquired them legally and format-shifted them. I know there are also plenty of people here who have changed the TTS settings on books without a peep out of Amazon. We can't guarantee that they never will start meddling in your private affairs but the day they start would be the day that I start shopping elsewhere. I'm sure many folks would feel the same. It would be PR suicide if they did it and they don't really have anything to gain.
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:07 PM   #3
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With wispernet turned on, Amazon can get the name of every file on your Kindle. They can certainly also read the contents of some files (bookmarks, notes, reading position) and I can't see any reason why they would have restricted that ability to just certain files.

So - if Amazon wanted, they could track every book you read on your Kindle, when it was added, when you started reading, how quickly you read each chapter, the contents of the books you read.

I don't expect Amazon would do that, but then - I didn't expect them to delete books from people's Kindles either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coleman View Post
So because I've lost my Sony Reader, it looks like I'm trying out a Kindle next. Given the recent 1984 bit, and what I've been reading, I am confused on one part. What is Amazon able to do/learn about things that you put on the Kindle yourself via USB? I am fine with them knowing what I buy from them, that's just going to be a given. But I'm not sure how I feel about them being able to exercise interactions with any other content on the device. Presumably it's possible, but has anything been said about that?

Thanks!
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Old 08-03-2009, 04:40 PM   #4
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Just out of curiosity, what info remains on the Kindle about a book (notes you made, name, when you added it to the Kindle, etc.) after you delete the book from the Kindle? I.E. with Whispernet off, you add a book, read it, make notes, etc. then delete it - What data remains that Amazon could access re. that book the next time you turn Whispernet on?
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:38 AM   #5
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One interesting thing I learned about Amazon's policies is that you can not waive your right to download a book that you have purchased even if you want to.

I bought a book from Amazon that I'd just as soon not have listed forever on my account. So I wrote to Amazon and asked if they would delete it -- it was ok with me if I could no longer download it. Amazon refused.

So, for the rest of my life, that book will be available to government snooping if, say, a court order is issued for that information. As you know, if I had purchased the same book in a bookstore, I would not even have had to identify myself when making the purchase, so I would not have to worry about being identified as an owner of the book.

In some hypothetical intolerant government of the future, be it left-wing or right-wing, my purchase could be of interest. This is something to keep in mind when dealing with Amazon. Amazon keeps a permanent record of your purchases and will not ever protect your privacy to the extent of getting rid of the information it has on you, even if it doesn't need that information.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geneven View Post
One interesting thing I learned about Amazon's policies is that you can not waive your right to download a book that you have purchased even if you want to.

I bought a book from Amazon that I'd just as soon not have listed forever on my account. So I wrote to Amazon and asked if they would delete it -- it was ok with me if I could no longer download it. Amazon refused.

So, for the rest of my life, that book will be available to government snooping if, say, a court order is issued for that information. As you know, if I had purchased the same book in a bookstore, I would not even have had to identify myself when making the purchase, so I would not have to worry about being identified as an owner of the book.

In some hypothetical intolerant government of the future, be it left-wing or right-wing, my purchase could be of interest. This is something to keep in mind when dealing with Amazon. Amazon keeps a permanent record of your purchases and will not ever protect your privacy to the extent of getting rid of the information it has on you, even if it doesn't need that information.
That is a very good point you make and a bit scary. Very 1984ish. It is extremely unfortunate that things have progressed to a point in todays world where I can't dismiss your view and ideas off as paranoia. In fact, this is becoming more and more a reality. Only recently, the FBI declassified a lot of information regarding how they data mine through tens of thousands of records to identify potential terrorist threats.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/09/fbi-nsac/

It is not inconceivable that governments could issue warrants to retailers like Amazon for their records to help further such data-mining projects (who knows if they already have). If the US government could have warrantless wiretaps, I'm sure this isn't too far away from reality.

Who knows, if I bought a copy of Mein Kampf, I might somehow end up on a watch list for being a potential skinhead? I think it is very important for people to be more aware of privacy issues in todays world (like the op). Of course, these companies (Amazon, Google, etc) will probably try to protect your interests but the fact remains that if they are to do business in any nation, they will have to abide with the laws in that country. So if the government asks them to hand over their records via legal means, chances are they won't put up a big fight for your rights. Just some food for thought.
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:09 PM   #7
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"Amazon coughs $150k to student over lost notes" according to The Register.
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Old 10-11-2009, 12:10 AM   #8
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What videotapes you rent is protected by federal law, as part of the fallout from a Supreme Court nomination back in the '80s:

http://epic.org/privacy/vppa/

(I'm not a lawyer and have no independent knowledge of the authority of the above site, but it is consistent with what I've read about this issue in the media).

Unfortunately, the law is written pretty specifically for videotapes, but I suspect before long there will be some case where this will be important, and it is definitely possible that afterwards Congress will end up passing a similar law protecting e-books and perhaps material "subscribed" over the internet such as Kindle periodical subscriptions. Till then, if you read kinky sex books or similar stuff you'd rather not have brought out in a court order or a government surveillance operation, best to continue reading them on dead trees!

As for Amazon itself, I suspect if they decided that it would be helpful in their marketing, they'd cheerfully snoop at what Kindle readers were reading. I suspect they'd disassociate the titles from any personal ID immediately, and I also suspect that this wouldn't in the slightest satisfy anyone who was upset by it (which I would be!). On the plus side, I'll bet that they've been so sensitized to this issue by the 1984 fiasco that they won't be trying it for a few years.

I'd read several times that Apple does similar snooping about what MP3 and video you own if you use iTunes software to synch media files onto an iPhone or iPod, but have no specific knowledge if it is actually true.
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Old 10-11-2009, 02:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hooded Claw View Post
What videotapes you rent is protected by federal law, as part of the fallout from a Supreme Court nomination back in the '80s:

http://epic.org/privacy/vppa/

(I'm not a lawyer and have no independent knowledge of the authority of the above site, but it is consistent with what I've read about this issue in the media).

Unfortunately, the law is written pretty specifically for videotapes, but I suspect before long there will be some case where this will be important, and it is definitely possible that afterwards Congress will end up passing a similar law protecting e-books and perhaps material "subscribed" over the internet such as Kindle periodical subscriptions. Till then, if you read kinky sex books or similar stuff you'd rather not have brought out in a court order or a government surveillance operation, best to continue reading them on dead trees!

As for Amazon itself, I suspect if they decided that it would be helpful in their marketing, they'd cheerfully snoop at what Kindle readers were reading. I suspect they'd disassociate the titles from any personal ID immediately, and I also suspect that this wouldn't in the slightest satisfy anyone who was upset by it (which I would be!). On the plus side, I'll bet that they've been so sensitized to this issue by the 1984 fiasco that they won't be trying it for a few years.

I'd read several times that Apple does similar snooping about what MP3 and video you own if you use iTunes software to synch media files onto an iPhone or iPod, but have no specific knowledge if it is actually true.
I wish I could be as optimistic regarding Congress eventually passing a bill in favour of our right to privacy in this matter. Unfortunately, with the way things are going, the corporations keep winning with all their lobbying power and our rights to privacy have been eroding away for a long time now.
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Old 10-11-2009, 07:38 PM   #10
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The only way I would assume a book purchase was private is if I paid cash for it.
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:59 AM   #11
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Don't use the wireless. Living in an area that doesn't have wireless coverage (Alaska), I've never gotten used to the wireless download. I've downloaded all my content to my computer and then USB'd it to the Kindle. Amazon.com may have records of what I've purchased, but they'll never have access to my Kindle to delete/snoop items. I don't like the idea of someone being able to look into my reading habits without my knowledge. YMMV.

P.S. Another advantage to downloading content to my computer is that I'll have a copy even if Amazon.com decides to recall a book for copyright issues (ala 1984).


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Old 10-15-2009, 07:40 AM   #12
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Don't use the wireless. Living in an area that doesn't have wireless coverage (Alaska), I've never gotten used to the wireless download. I've downloaded all my content to my computer and then USB'd it to the Kindle. Amazon.com may have records of what I've purchased, but they'll never have access to my Kindle to delete/snoop items. I don't like the idea of someone being able to look into my reading habits without my knowledge. YMMV.

P.S. Another advantage to downloading content to my computer is that I'll have a copy even if Amazon.com decides to recall a book for copyright issues (ala 1984).


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Even if you download your content via whispernet you can still copy the files from your Kindle to a hard drive on your computer. If you really want to keep your reading habits private burn your library card and pay cash for books, preferably in small bills.
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Old 10-15-2009, 08:59 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by coleman View Post
...I am fine with them knowing what I buy from them, that's just going to be a given. But I'm not sure how I feel about them being able to exercise interactions with any other content on the device. Presumably it's possible, but has anything been said about that?

Thanks!
The OP had concerns with Amazon.com being able to access/interact with content on their Kindle. I gave them a solution that I use that might help.

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Originally Posted by Connallmac View Post
...If you really want to keep your reading habits private burn your library card and pay cash for books, preferably in small bills.
Some of us do value our privacy and try find ways to enjoy the latest innovations without giving up too much. There is no reason to get snippy if you don't agree.


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Old 10-16-2009, 07:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWaffles View Post
The OP had concerns with Amazon.com being able to access/interact with content on their Kindle. I gave them a solution that I use that might help.



Some of us do value our privacy and try find ways to enjoy the latest innovations without giving up too much. There is no reason to get snippy if you don't agree.


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And I was just pointing out to you that you can protect the content that you buy via Whispernet by backing it up. As far as privacy concerns go, I'm a card carrying member of the ACLU and I certainly do believe in protecting the privacy of the individual. I just think that if you are purchasing ebooks from websites with credit/debit cards that you are kidding yourself if think you have any sort of privacy, regardless of whether or not you use Whispernet.
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:15 AM   #15
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And I was just pointing out to you that you can protect the content that you buy via Whispernet by backing it up. As far as privacy concerns go, I'm a card carrying member of the ACLU and I certainly do believe in protecting the privacy of the individual. I just think that if you are purchasing ebooks from websites with credit/debit cards that you are kidding yourself if think you have any sort of privacy, regardless of whether or not you use Whispernet.
Agreed, that will give them stats on what I've purchased. I'm more concerned about them looking into my device and seeing what I've highlighted, annotated or even reading notes I've taken (or deleting them). Whispernet is not the way I want to go. It's not about them knowing what I've purchased, it's about them tracking what I've done afterwards.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch, but there are a couple of threads around here that give me concern about using Whispernet. One thread is about Amazon.com deleting items from people's Kindles without notice (copyright issues), another interesting thread outlines the contents of the System Log file that the Kindle regularly sends to Amazon.com. The file includes some very interesting information (including the geographical location of the device). I don’t believe for a minute that Amazon.com would use this info in a negative way, but why make it available to tempt someone.

Just my warped perspective.


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