Amazon Spying On Your Ebook Highlighting

from the who-owns-what-now? dept

There have already been plenty of questions over who "owns" the ebooks you've bought, with stories of remotely deactivated books and remotely deactivated features -- neither of which happens when you have a real physical book. But there are also other concerns opened up by newly activated features. Apparently one new feature -- sent in by a few concerned readers -- is that Amazon will now remotely upload and store the user notes and highlights you take on your Kindle, which it then compiles into "popular highlights."

I have no doubt that the feature provides some interesting data, but it's not clear that users realize their highlighting and notes are being stored and used that way. Amazon basically says there's no big privacy deal here, because the data is always aggregated. But it sounds like many users don't realize this is happening at all. Amazon says people can find out they added this feature by reading "forum posts and help pages" -- but it's not clear how many people actually do read those things. While I'm sure many people are fine with this, others might not be. And it once again highlights a key concern in that the "features" of your "book" can change over time. Your highlighting may have been yours in the past, but suddenly it becomes Amazon's with little notice.

Filed Under: ebooks, kindle, ownership, spying
Companies: amazon

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 May 2010 @ 4:05pm

    Notes and original content rights should be handled differently.

    I had a conversation with an IP Lawyer regarding the nature of patents and document security some time ago. We were talking about how patents are in the public domain but that a company's interest in a patent is HIGHLY secret. An interesting lesson is how privacy/secrecy issue can emerge from the simple act of reading a document (an interest has been registered somewhere).

    Because of this, I would say that notes about a book are highly personal and potentially contain corporate secrets. As of right now, it puts up a HUGE block to use of ebooks if notes can be exposed to unauthorized third parties or even Amazon.

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