The Amazon Kindle just released the latest version of its e-reader. While many are excited about the new features such as the ability to purchase discounted books, many others are concerned about privacy. Few consumers realize the level at which the Amazon Kindle spies on its readers; their habits, their locations, and more.
It should come as no surprise to anyone, at this point in history, that anything done on an electronic screen is recorded, but what may shock some is the extent of the information collected and how much of it is shared with outside interests. The Amazon Kindle is one of the worst offenders when it comes to e-readers spying on the public.
Amazon Kindle Does Not Offer Any Privacy
But the Amazon Kindle doesn’t just record what you read, it records how you read. It records how fast or how slowly you read, which sections you skip, how many notes you make and the times you write them. It records the content of all of those notes, too. It records what you highlight and bookmark. All of that information is subject to being shared with outside interests, and with the government should it ever request information from Amazon about you.
The Amazon Kindle knows how quickly you turn pages and how quickly you read certain sections of a book. It records what times of day and night you read, whether you read more on the weekends versus during the week, and which day of the week you tend to read the most.
So What’s Wrong with the Amazon Kindle Spying on You?
So what’s wrong with the Amazon Kindle spying on you, you may ask? Well, firstly, it’s no one’s business what you read, when you read it or what your private margin notes say, but Amazon Kindle’s spying also creates a situation in which you are being robbed of important human interactions.
Based on all of this data, the Amazon Kindle will serve you with suggestions it thinks you will like. Notice we say “it,” because it’s a computer that is determining your interests rather than a local bookstore owner or a librarian. Whereas the local librarian might know you only wanted to read books about cancer when your friend was diagnosed and going through treatment, Amazon Kindle will keep recommending cancer books to you even after your friend has passed away, constantly reminding you of the pain and suffering your friend went through, and your own grief and mourning over his or her passing.
The Amazon Kindle Doesn’t Care
The Amazon Kindle doesn’t care about why you were reading those books at that particular time and it has no interest in the fact you’d like to move on to other interests. Your local librarian, though, might have been privy to your whispered explanations at the time of your friend’s illness, and she might also warmly hug you as she leads you to a stack of books about how to heal after a loss or how to plant a memorial garden. You may be too overwhelmed with grief to search for these types of books yourself on your Amazon Kindle, and its algorithms only reinforce your sadness. You’re now in a situation where Amazon Kindle keeps spewing up cancer books and you’ve been robbed of a bonding experience with another, human member of your community- your local librarian. Eventually, these missed opportunities and relationships will add up into a degraded social structure.
Other problems with Amazon Kindle Spying on you
It may seem far-fetched, but it can, and does, happen. Say you get falsely accused of a violent crime and you find yourself sitting in a courtroom. The lawyer for the prosecution pulls out a list of books you purchased on your Amazon Kindle, and they all happen to be books that feature a murder. That’s not going to look too good to the jury, is it? Now, remember, you’ve been falsely accused of a crime, but the jury doesn’t know that. All they know is that you’re a voracious reader of murder mysteries. The prosecutor says you are obviously obsessed with violence because: “just look at this reading list!”
This can create what’s called the “chilling effect.” The chilling effect happens when people begin to avoid books they would have otherwise read in order to avoid being tracked, or out of fear that what they have read could be misinterpreted in some way. The chilling effect poses great danger to knowledge and the sharing of information in our society; as people increasingly avoid certain books, a downward spiral of potentially thwarted knowledge builds into a vortex of diminishing returns.
It is not really the fault of Amazon or the Amazon Kindle. It is the fault of a society which has allowed privacy to erode to this degree. The fact that everyone will one day be directly harmed by this lack of privacy is indisputable; the problem is the extreme apathy of the average American. The Amazon Kindle spies on you, but the question is, do you care?
By: Rebecca Savastio