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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Privacy Rights for eReader Users

I recently learned about an interesting comment by Meredith Mays Espino entitled, Sometimes I Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me . . . Read?: A Comment On The Need For Heightened Privacy Rights For Consumers Of Ebooks, (30 J. Marshall J. Info. Tech. & Privacy L. 281 (2013)). From the introduction:

If you use an eReader, or other electronic device for your reading, someone is watching you read. Rather, something is watching what you read, how long you read, whether you stopped reading at a certain page, whether you bookmarked certain passages, and even whether you needed to look up a word if you are reading from an eReader. eReaders and other electronic devices are quickly becoming the primary mode of reading. The books, magazines, and other reading materials that are available from sources such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and iTunes are almost limitless. 
. . . 
Due to privacy implications for readers, governmental and commercial entities should be prohibited from mining reader data without strict safeguards, including passage of the Reader Privacy Act in all states and amending the definition of “library” in all state and federal statutes to include purveyors of ebooks. In order to ensure that data cannot be used to destroy patron privacy, libraries and ebook services should be prohibited from collecting information beyond that which is necessary to complete the business transaction and should subsequently destroy circulation information after each transaction is completed.
This is an important issue and an interesting proposal. Of course, readers could do what I do and simply stick to physical books, but this alternative might be a bit too radical for people to accept.

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