Newspaper Editorial: “E-book readers / Privacy, please”
The latest round in that debate involves your tablet or e-reader and the information companies can gather about what you are reading. A bill introduced last week by Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly, D-Bergen, Passaic, and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, D-Essex, Morris, would give readers of digital books the same expectation of privacy that people who borrow books from libraries have.
For most of us, there is a clear difference between the personal information we choose to broadcast on the Internet and the data our devices are secretly gathering about us. The idea of information about our reading habits getting into the wrong hands is creepy. Western civilization has had a long tradition of believing that what you read is nobody else’s business. We all should be free to read Karl Marx, Ayn Rand or even a little soft-core porn without worrying about the government, a political rival or a next-door neighbor looking over our shoulders.
Read the Complete Editorial
As we’ve pointed out many times before, what type of privacy do library users have when borrowing an ebook via the library and then accessing it on a Kindle device?
Ebooks and Kindles are great and should continue but we do need to clearly inform our users about what’s going on especially since the transaction begins on the library web site and libraries are promoting the service.
We also need to do a better job informing users about any tracking that ebook providers/aggregators might be using. Do we explain to users how to opt-out? Again, no need to eliminate the service but to be transparent about what’s going on.
We all want government and the corporate world to be as transparent as possible, why not libraries?
Why not be proactive on these issue vs. reacting (as libraries always seem to be doing) and potentially losing a lot of well-deserved appreciation that the public has toward libraries on privacy issues?
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.