The privacy question is getting asked in a whole new way. Or at least the question what is privacy? is being examined under a new microscope. Amazon.com is now sharing information about what you highlight on your Kindle with anyone who wants to see.
Before you start screaming, let’s take a look at some of the details.
First, Amazon.com doesn’t seem to be sharing the details of what individual users highlight while using the Kindle. The information is being mushed together and is available only in aggregate on the Kindle web site, so as long as Amazon can be trusted to handle your information ethically and protect it properly there’s should be no issue of what you look at personally on your Kindle or Kindle-compatible device being revealed.
But so far as I can see there’s no opt-out mechanism. So not only is there a record at Amazon.com of what you’re reading on your Kindle (one that would be available under subpoena, by the way), but also a record of what strikes you as important. And you have no recourse. If you use a Kindle or a Kindle app on some other platform you are leaving an amazingly precise record of what you read. 1984, indeed!
Amazon’s use of your information to aggregate Kindle usage statistics may not matter. Particularly in the USA, reading something can’t be held against you—at least, not officially. But do you want that information used?
ISPs, the companies that provide us access to the Internet, keep records of everywhere we surf, but delete that information after whatever period their lawyers tell them is safe. Amazon.com’s Kindle usage records are an intentional aggregation, and so by nature don’t ever go away.
Keep an eye on your records and stay aware of the tracks you’re leaving. And please make sure that your business change plans include keeping your customers aware of how you use their information.