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    Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

    Wall Street Journal: Your E-Book Is Reading You

    Monday, July 2nd, 2012

    The Wall Street Journal reports that, because of the rising popularity of electronic readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iPad and other devices, publishers and retailers have a large amount of data about individuals’ reading habits. This has implications for the privacy of individuals’ reading habits:

    In the past, publishers and authors had no way of knowing what happens when a reader sits down with a book. Does the reader quit after three pages, or finish it in a single sitting? Do most readers skip over the introduction, or read it closely, underlining passages and scrawling notes in the margins? Now, e-books are providing a glimpse into the story behind the sales figures, revealing not only how many people buy particular books, but how intensely they read them. […]

    But the rise of digital books has prompted a profound shift in the way we read, transforming the activity into something measurable and quasi-public.

    The major new players in e-book publishing—Amazon, Apple and Google—can easily track how far readers are getting in books, how long they spend reading them and which search terms they use to find books. Book apps for tablets like the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook record how many times readers open the app and how much time they spend reading. Retailers and some publishers are beginning to sift through the data, gaining unprecedented insight into how people engage with books. […] Read more »

    Op-Eds on Privacy from Reuters

    Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted an op-ed by Don Tapscott discussing the right of privacy in the digital age, when technology has made it easy to broadly share data. He argued that everyone should have “a personal privacy strategy.” That was part one of a three-part series. In part two, Tapscott asks “Can we retain privacy in the era of Big Data?”

    Privacy is nothing if not the freedom to be let alone, to experiment and to make mistakes, to forget and to start anew, to act according to conscience, and to be free from the oppressive scrutiny and opinions of others.

    It may seem an odd notion today, but in its infancy the Internet was a favorite refuge for many seeking privacy. A famous New Yorkercartoon published almost 20 years ago featured two dogs sitting in front of a computer, with one saying to the other: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

    Today such anonymity is essentially non-existent. Practical obscurity – the basis for privacy norms throughout history – is fast disappearing. Our society is collectively creating, storing and communicating information at nearly exponential rates of growth. Most of this data is personally identifiable, and third parties control much of it. This personal data will be archived online forever and be instantly searchable, and few appreciate how many ways this data might be used to harm us. Read more »

    Op-Ed at Washington Post: 10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

    Friday, January 20th, 2012

    In an opinion column at the Washington Post, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley discussing how the United States’ expanding security powers can affect individual privacy and liberties:

    Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

    Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

    While each new national security power Washington has embraced was controversial when enacted, they are often discussed in isolation. But they don’t operate in isolation. They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian. Americans often proclaim our nation as a symbol of freedom to the world while dismissing nations such as Cuba and China as categorically unfree. Yet, objectively, we may be only half right. Those countries do lack basic individual rights such as due process, placing them outside any reasonable definition of “free,” but the United States now has much more in common with such regimes than anyone may like to admit. […] Read more »

    USA Today: The Kindle Fire’s big security problem

    Friday, December 16th, 2011

    USA Today reports on security questions with Amazon’s tablet/e-reader, the Kindle Fire:

    Security concerns are giving some consumers another reason to hold off on the Kindle Fire, one of the holiday’s hottest gadgets. […]

    In order to use the Fire, users must tie it to an account — with credit card on file — that is set up to purchase items with just one click.

    This means that anyone given access to the device can buy, with just a tap, e-books, apps, TV shows and music.

    Even more concerning: If a user has recently logged into the shopping app, the next person who picks up the Fire can use that app to buy anything from the Web giant’s catalog, even if the device has briefly gone dormant between uses. […] Read more »

    MediaPost: New California Privacy Bill Raises Questions About Bloggers

    Monday, October 31st, 2011

    Recently, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the Reader Privacy Act (SB 602: HTML, PDF). Set to take effect on Jan. 1, the law requires government agencies to obtain a court order before they can access the customer records of online  bookstores. Now, MediaPost reports that there could be privacy questions affecting bloggers’ online postings:

    Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, says California lawmakers might have imposed some new requirements on individual bloggers who aren’t booksellers in the traditional sense.

    That’s because the statute’s wording appears to leave room for interpretation about exactly who is covered by the law. The measure prohibits any “commercial entity” offering a book service from turning over information about readers without a court order. Goldman says in a blog post that the language appears broad enough to include individuals who operate ad-supported blogs.

    “Consider that many blogs are, in fact, paginated (at least in the URL),” Goldman writes. “Perhaps many bloggers aren’t ‘commercial entities,’ although I’m sure plaintiff lawyers will argue that a blog with AdSense and some Amazon affiliate links would satisfy that standard,” he adds. Read more » Calif. Extends Library Privacy Laws to E-Books

    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

    PCMag reports that California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed the Reader Privacy Act (SB 602: HTML, PDF), which “will extend privacy protections currently in place for library records to book purchases, including e-books.”

    The bill, known as the Reader Privacy Act of 2011, will require government agencies to obtain a court order before they access customer records from book stores or online retailers. It will officially become law on January 1.

    “California law was completely inadequate when it came to protecting one’s privacy for book purchases, especially for online shopping and electronic books,” said Calif. state Sen. Leland Yee, the bill’s sponsor. “Individuals should be free to buy books without fear of government intrusion and witch hunts. If law enforcement has reason to suspect wrongdoing, they should obtain a court order for such information.” […] Read more »