Your e-reader has its eye on you
| Dec 16, 2010
E-books are quickly going mainstream: They represent nearly one out of 10 trade books sold. It's easy to imagine a near future in which paper books are the exception, not the norm. But are book lovers ready to have their reading tracked?
Most e-readers, like Amazon's Kindle, have an antenna that lets users instantly download new books. But the technology also makes it possible for the device to transmit information back to the manufacturer. "They know how fast you read because you have to click to turn the page," says Cindy Cohn, legal director at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It knows if you skip to the end to read how it turns out."
And it's not just what pages you read; it may also monitor where you read them. Kindles, iPads and other e-readers have geo-location abilities; using GPS or data from Wi-Fi and cell phone towers, it wouldn't be difficult for the devices to track their own locations in the physical world. Listen to the story or read it at NPR.org.