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When Your e-Books Read You 105

theodp writes "'Perhaps nothing will have as large an impact on advanced analytics in the coming year as the ongoing explosion of new and powerful data sources,' writes Bill Franks in Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave. And one of the hottest new sources of Big Data, reports the WSJ's Alexandra Alter in Your E-Book Is Reading You, is the estimated 40 million e-readers and 65 million tablets in use in the U.S. that are ripe for the picking by data scientists working for Amazon, Apple, Google, and Barnes & Noble. Some privacy watchdogs argue that e-book users should be protected from having their digital reading habits recorded. 'There's a societal ideal that what you read is nobody else's business,' says the EFF's Cindy Cohn."
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When Your e-Books Read You

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  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Saturday June 30, 2012 @09:49AM (#40504219) Homepage

    Someday some genius is going to have the bright idea of being the sole content provider who does not mine users' personal data for targeted ads. And people will sign up in droves for all the pent-up demand.

    Most users are not conscious that their data is being mined. And even of those who are and have a problem with it, a majority of those who voice their displeasure will go ahead and continue using the product nonetheless. The result is that users who really insist on privacy are such a small group that it is hard to build a business from them. "Droves" is not a word.

  • Re:Uh what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @10:13AM (#40504331)

    That only tells someone what you bought, not what you read, how often you read it, what parts you reread, etc. While the first part is useful, it isn't as useful as having all of it. There's a reason why Librarians fought so hard to prevent giving over your checkout history to other parts of the government several years ago.

  • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @10:23AM (#40504397)

    You live in Soviet Russia.

    The distinctions have begun to get pretty blurry lately.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2012 @10:40AM (#40504521)

    The more everyone decides to move to electronic devices we don't control - ebooks, iOS, most Android devices, WP7, Facebook, DVRs that report on our viewing habits, and many others - the more this reality will come to pass. Every single thing we ever with anything electronic will be tracked, logged, used to form advertizing profiles of us, and a government database mined to find da terrurusts.

    We get the reality we chose to buy. Most people are choosing to live in this world by preferring those products over others without the privacy problems. Thus, it is the world we will get.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @10:40AM (#40504529)
    You retain 99% of your privacy just by using cash. Most people are too stupid and/or lazy to consider this an option, though.
  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @10:49AM (#40504585)

    ...but standing behind them and taking notes is a whole level up from there.

    Which is pretty much why I rip the DRM out of any book I buy (for futureproofing) and only use my reader device offline, using Calibre [] to manage content.

  • Re:Uh what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zmughal ( 1343549 ) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @11:14AM (#40504767) Homepage

    "'There's a societal ideal that what you read is nobody else's business,'"... no, no there isn't.

    When speaking about the act of reading, there is some expectation of privacy, at least from the government. This isn't related to businesses per se, but librarians have fought to keep library records private and as such, their policies and software try to keep records for only as long as necessary (e.g. the duration of loan). Librarians often refuse to give out information on their patrons unless there is a court order.

    This same sort of ideal can be applied to businesses in the form of opt-in data mining, but U.S. society needs to make this sort of decision in the form of information privacy law.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan