Improving e-reader privacy for digital book lovers

Ruth C. | September 22, 2020

An e-reader (e-book reader) is the front-runner for any modern bookworm. They are lightweight, portable, and capable of storing thousands of publications. As a result, the originally offline hobby becomes fully digital, enriched with infinite libraries and publications. However, e-readers participate in the ongoing surveillance and user profiling more actively than you think. The genres, news articles, bookmarks, and highlights serve as insights that businesses are ready to monetize.

E-readers and problems associated with them

Ironically, Amazon manufactures most of the prevalent e-reader models. Amazon Kindle’s initial advantage was the seamless integration of Amazon’s online store. However, it triggers side effects, including tracking every page flip, highlight, or copy action. As Amazon serves millions of consumers each year, its questionable practices in e-commerce are the focus of many controversies.

E-readers’ intrusive nature is nothing recent. A study published in 2012 already observed the meddlesome practices of these products. According to it, almost all e-readers monitored users’ habits. Unless the clients opted out, product owners also had the privilege of sharing collected data outside the company. Disturbingly, this snoopy and unpleasant trailing of each action was discoverable only through extensive privacy policies or user agreements.

Imagine that someone collected endless spreadsheets of every action you took with accurate timestamps. No, this is not the beginning of a thrilling novel, but a reality that readers face daily. A curious book lover requested Amazon to share personal data the giant had accumulated over the years. In addition to the typical logs of orders and shipping details, Amazon delivered the overwhelming Excel spreadsheets. They resembled a window to the person’s reading routine. From piles of records, the person pinpointed every time the e-reader was functional. From experts’ perspective, close-monitoring of clients’ reading habits is not vital to providing e-reader functions, despite claims suggesting otherwise.

What can reading habits reveal about you?

The content you read through e-readers can be highly personal. It can reveal your interests, career choices, preferences, hobbies, and even mental state. So, Amazon, or other e-reader manufacturers, could easily benefit from such private data. It is very likely e-readers contribute to the overall customer profiling, knowing the complicated history of data abuse for profit.

So, readers’ attempts to improve through self-help books could be a way for massive enterprises to empower personalization strategies. Of course, whether these reading habits come into play depends on the e-reader creators. Before purchasing them, review their privacy policies and terms of use.

How to keep reading a sacred and private activity?

Amazon Kindle e-readers dominate the industry. Hence, it is understandable that its tracking practices are the most prominent and disruptive. If you no longer wish to have your reading habits streamlined, follow these brief instructions:

  1. Launch Kindle.
  2. Choose “Device Options” and find “Advanced options.”
  3. Pick “Privacy” and mark the “Disable” option.
  4. For a more pervasive alternative, go to the Amazon page and open “Manage Your Content and Devices.” Under “Privacy Settings,” you will notice choices for halting all tracking initiated by Amazon.
  5. Bear in mind that this does not give you complete anonymity. Full disclosure: a portion of tracking practices are necessary for syncing or Special Offers generation.

Similar routines should disable tracking in other e-readers. As a last resort, you can request Amazon or another enterprise to share or remove all logs collected about you. Another ultimate action is to prevent your e-book reader from connecting to Wi-Fi. No internet: no constant stream of data leaking.

How to prevent e-readers or other gadgets from tracking you

Some people still enjoy the authentic smell of freshly-printed or nostalgic old books. However, a traditional paperback is rare, with drastic percentages of readers making a move to e-readers, tablets, or smartphones. Sadly, constant strives for more personalized content as a stimulus to spend more time or money, diminish the e-reader experience. Hence, the digital world introduces a paradox. We feel uneasy and anxious about privacy violations, but deem attempts to resolve them as futile. Luckily, Atlas VPN supports internet freedom and fights for the right to explore, express, and enter. Get ready to be courageous and restrain marketers, ISP’s, and governments from treating the web as a maximum-security environment.

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