Someone on a mailing list mentioned that she sees underlining in random spots when she reads Kindle books. She thought it was a formatting issue that people should fix.
But then other readers replied:
1: The underlining in some books on Kindle is actually the highlighting done by other readers. By going to the menu you can choose not to show what other readers have highlighted.
2: Does that mean that any annotation someone makes on their personal Kindle copy of a book shows up on Amazon’s “master” copy? That means Amazon not only tracks all the books you have, but also where you are in a particular book AND every note you make on it.
3: Oh, absolutely. If your machine is online and you’re using Amazon Kindle software, it’s phoning home your every move. Amazon is nearly the worst, but all the readers are in some measure invasive.
4: Having worked at Amazon, I can promise you that any fairly low-level employee can look up anyone who bought a particular book, as well as lists of books bought by individuals. The Kindle highlighting is simply an additional issue vis-a-vis privacy.
Eeeep! I knew they were “keeping statistics,” but it’s even crazier than I suspected.
Well, anyway, here’s something I can add to my litany of Why I Still Prefer “Real” Books to E-books, Even Though I Can’t Manage to Get My Own Books Done That-A-Way. This info-sending isn’t necessarily going to be “turned off” just because you mark on the menu that you don’t want to see others’ highlighting or that you don’t want your notes backed up, you know; they might SAY they’re going to ignore your info and harvest it anyway. Who’s going to catch them? *Because* no one but employees in the Amazon IT department can go into that code. Right?
I know about the spyware that keeps track of which websites you visit and keyloggers that sneak onto your own system and so forth, but I check for those and take off any that I find, and then hope for the best. There’s a trade-off involved with reading Web pages and perhaps getting your visit recorded. Or with checking for keyloggers on your computer now and then. You are getting a benefit from websurfing and using your computer for word processing (or whatever) that kind of makes the hassle worth it. We can also prevent the spying most of the time.
With books . . . well, I’d rather “they” didn’t know what I am reading AND what I might be doing with the books that they know I have. Ugh, even them knowing the books I have is a problem.
Solution: I can buy “real” books at the used book store or at garage sales and THEY WON’T KNOW. This is how I get those evil 1960s cookbooks (I love them for the kitsch factor, plus Mama keeps saying, “That’s how I used to make that dish!”) and old versions of Bobbsey Twins novels (pre-sanitizing and Bowdlerizing). Bwaa-ha-ha! They can’t stop me!
(At least not yet. That’s probably coming.)
Yes, I can also buy new books at a bookstore if I use cash and don’t use my “tracking cookie” in the form of the discount/rewards card, and perhaps “they” won’t know. However, the checkout register prints the titles of the books you get on your receipt, so the stores DO know that someone bought this group of books together. I’m sure there is a marketing aspect to this as well as a Homeland Security aspect.
But it shows you how much closer we are to having Big Brother watching all the time . . . and most people shrug it off and say they have nothing to hide. Um . . . OK.
Everything’s cool! We’re all friends. La, la la.
Nothing to see here. Move along!