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Privacy and eReading Part 2: Amazon, BN, Kobo & Sony

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The following is a summary of the data collected by Amazon, BN, Kobo, and Sony.  According to the EFF charts compiled in 2010, the safest way to read is to download books to Adobe Digital Editions because ADE does not track your reading habits.  Your purchasing data, however, is still compiled by the various retailers.

The summary is divided by type and then whether the retailer collects the data.

Overview

Amazon (privacy policy):  collects “your name, address, and phone numbers; credit card information; people to whom purchases have been shipped, including addresses and phone number; people (with addresses and phone numbers) listed in 1-Click settings; e-mail addresses of your friends and other people; content of reviews and e-mails to us; personal description and photograph in Your Profile; and financial information, including Social Security and driver’s license numbers.”

  • From mobile devices, your location if that is enabled on your phone.

BN (privacy policy):  collects personal data described as “your name in combination with other information that we collect about you. For example, personal information can include your name in combination with your e-mail address, billing address, shipping address, phone number, or credit card information.”

Kobo (privacy policy):  Collects “name, email address, password, and country of residence.” and “Unless the purpose is self-evident due to the nature of the transaction in question, We will identify the purposes for which personal information is collected at or before the time the information is collected.”

Sony (privacy policy): One of the most intrusive retailers.

  • Collects email address, name, mailing address, telephone number, social security number, credit card number, or persistent identifier (such as a customer number held in a cookie) and
  • “may” monitor what software you have installed “to detect the absence or presence of any versions of software or software updates installed on your computer and to track and monitor content you are downloading, streaming, using or otherwise accessing. Any or all of these activities can occur periodically or when necessary, without any other specific notice to you.”
  • “may also collect, aggregate and maintain anonymous information about you, such as your hobbies, interests, purchases, downloads, page visits, music preferences, and the like.”

Data Drilldown

Data: Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights or similar markings

  • Amazon: Yes
    • The Software will provide Amazon with data about your Kindle and its interaction with the Service (such as available memory, up-time, log files, and signal strength).
    • Information related to the Digital Content on your Kindle and Other Devices and your use of it (such as last page read and content archiving).
    • Annotations, bookmarks, notes, highlights, or similar markings you make using your Kindle or Reading Application.
  • BN: Yes, as well as Device registration, Device settings, usage, firmware version, search queries, downloads, sideloaded content, and Device configuration and Device or service information relating to any malfunction of the Device
  • Kobo: Yes, Kobo tracks “Your usage, such as when and how often You use the Kobo Service as well as information You display or click on within the Kobo Service (including UI elements, settings, and other information), and may share this information to trusted third parties, including Our publishers or other suppliers of content.”
  • Sony:  Did not explicitly say but it’s privacy policies are very broad. See above.

IP Address, Date and Time You Visit, The Pages You Visit

  • Amazon: Yes (the Internet protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the Internet; login; e-mail address; password; computer and connection information such as browser type, version, and time zone setting, browser plug-in types and versions, operating system, and platform; purchase history)
  • BN: Yes (browser, domain and host from which you access the Internet; date and time site is accessed)
  • Kobo: Yes (browser type and IP address)
  • Sony: Yes (computers’, network enabled devices’, systems’ and/or networks’ IP addresses and message information and aggregate information in a non-personally identifiable manner using our technology, such as visitors’ and users’ browsing or use activities, the domain or mobile phone area code or device number and carrier from which a visitor accesses or clicks through to a website, page views, downloads, streaming and the like)

Cookies

  • Amazon: Yes, web browser
  • BN: Yes and if you disable cookies, you cannot place an order.
  • Kobo: Yes, to identify what web browser you are using and when you visit what pages on their website.  Kobo does not “collect personal information, and We do not combine information collected through cookies with other personal information to tell Us who You are or what Your screen name or e-mail address is.”
  • Sony: Yes (f you block your cookies, you will not be able to use the eBook Service and they “may also use technology to detect the absence or presence of any versions of software or software updates installed on your computer and to track and monitor content you are downloading, streaming, using or otherwise accessing”)
Transparent GIFS
  • Amazon: Yes, to see if you’ve opened the email.
  • Kobo: Yes, used to determine which emails are opened by recipients
  • BN: Yes, used to (1) send you e-mails in that format; and (2) determine if you have opened their e-mail messages.
  • Sony: Yes “for purposes such as researching and tracking certain usage, site interaction, and other activities on our website, on certain network enabled devices, and in emails you receive”
Escaping them
Amazon: If you do not want to receive e-mail or other mail adjust your Customer Communication Preferences.
BN: To remove yourself from mailings, call Customer Service Center at 1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-824-2665). International customers should call 201-559-3882.
Any account holder can opt-out of the receipt of any promotional communications by logging onto their Account and following the instructions under “Communication Preferences”.
call customer service at 1-800-THE-BOOK [1-800-843-2665]
Kobo:  Upon request, you can find out what personal information they’ve collected and how they have used it.
Sony:  Need to know exactly where the information is collected in order to go and uncheck a box. In addition, with each commercial email you receive from SEL or any of its business units, you will be given the opportunity to indicate if you do not wish to receive future commercial emails from SEL or the SEL business unit which sent it to you.
[email protected] or write to us at:Sony Electronics Inc.
Personal Information Management Office
1 Sony Drive, MD 1E4
Park Ridge, New Jersey 07656
  • To opt out of information related to consumer products, go to http://products.sel.sony.com/SEL/legal/choice.html
  • To opt out of information related to professional products, go to http://sonyleadmgmt.com/email_opt_out.html
  • To opt out of Reader Store newsletters and information, visit the “My Account” section of your Reader Store and revise your email preferences.
  • Upon written request, Sony will provide you access to the personal information requested.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

17 Comments

  1. Christine M.
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 06:37:22

    This raises a couple of questions in my mind:

    Based on the fact that I have a sony device, with is not configured to use the wifi and that I have *never* installed the Sony reader software since I reformatted my computer, can I safely assume that Sony doesn’t have any info about me, right now? I haven’t registered my reader, nor did I provided an email address.

    I did install that horrible software once, 4 years ago with my previous reader, but I used it about 6 months (and bought only 2 book through it) until I met Calibre and then I never looked back. I haven’t linked my former account with this reader though, so I should be ‘safe’ for now, yes?

  2. Jess
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 07:28:38

    I love my Sony e-reader but hate their store. I don’t know how it works for readers of other genres/subgenres, but for fantasy/horror fans it’s disorganized and all around terrible. I bought one book from them and hated the process so much that now if there’s a book I want, I buy directly from the publisher. I’m not sure if, by using their e-reader but not their store, they can still collect my information. If they can, I’m split on how I’d feel about that. If they knew I was going to everyone but them for my books, maybe they’d improve their selection. Unfortunately, no amount of spying will inform that that the other reason I don’t use them is that they need a better way to search for books. On the other hand, because my reasons for not using their store aren’t obvious, they’d have to care enough to do extra research. Also, I don’t like being spied on. I’m sure they have “good” reasons, but I never gave them my permission to track my history and previous buys. I’d love an easy opt-out option.

  3. Christine M.
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 09:16:19

    @Jess: It’s usually part of the Terms & Conditions Sony says you have to agree to when you create an account with them, or when you dl and install the Sony software… The exact reason why they don’t even ‘know’ I bought a new reader with their name on it. :)

  4. LG
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 09:39:10

    What would Sony need your social security number for?

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  6. DM
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 11:56:27

    Jane, is there any difference in how much data they can collect off their own devices (like a Kindle or a Nook) and how much they can collect from a piece of software running on another device (like Kindle for iPad or PC)? If they can collect less data off a third party device, then that makes third party devices a lot more appealing. I have to admit, I don’t find e-readers easy to annotate, so if I plan to make a lot of notes in a book, I buy a paper copy, but I consider notes to be my intellectual property, and I’m not inclined to share them.

  7. Estara
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 13:40:55

    Okay, so this is purely information about the various SHOPS if I see that correctly? Not about the devices themselves at all this time. Then I think my good old PRS-650 is still quite safe. I’m not surprised that the various shops mine so much data though, but then I do buy in all kinds of bigger and smaller stores (except for Sony – well I do have some freebies from them) and there’s no one true profile.

    However my paperbook reading habit rests solely in Amazon.de hands, heh.

  8. Jane
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 14:08:48

    @Christine M.: Your shopping history would be preserved but I think your computer and device (so long as you never connect to the internet) would be fine.

    @LG: Not sure.

    @DM: I think that they collect a ton of information from the Apps themselves. Kobo, for example, can track how long you spend in the app itself.

    @Estara: No, this is not just information re the shops but the devices as well. See the notes regarding BN tracking your side loaded content, for example.

  9. Privacy and eReading Part 2: Amazon, BN, Kobo & Sony | Pobre Gutenberg | Scoop.it
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 02:06:40

    [...] "The following is a summary of the data collected by Amazon, BN, Kobo, and Sony. According to the EFF charts compiled in 2010, the safest way to read is to download books to Adobe Digital Editions because ADE does not track your reading habits. Your purchasing data, however, is still compiled by the various retailers."  [...]

  10. Las
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 09:42:23

    There’s something especially creepy about BN tracking side-loaded content. Do they just note what content gets side-loaded or can they also track reading progress, bookmarks, etc.? And is it possible for them to track where the book was purchased if it’s stripped and converted?

  11. Lada
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 11:49:21

    @Las: I wonder this, too. I’m hoping the only conclusion they can draw from the fact that most of my new content is side-loaded from other resources is the fact that I hate BnN’s site and customer service. I really don’t appreciate not being able to control what information I want to share about myself but I know I’m being tracked on my laptop/iThing/edevice/phone pretty much every time I put it to use.

  12. MrsJoseph
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 13:50:04

    I have to admit this creeps me out. It seems that we are getting to a place where its ereader = tracking and DTB = no tracking. Someone give me a DTB.

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    [...] The following is a summary of the data collected by Amazon, BN, Kobo, and Sony. According to the EFF charts compiled in 2010, the safest way to read is to download books to Adobe Digital Editions because ADE does not track your reading habits. Your purchasing data, however, is still compiled by the various retailers.   -Jane Litte @ Dear Author  [...]

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