1984 is Now

A Picture of a eBook

E-reader image courtesy of Wikipedia

Remember the telescreen in Orwell’s 1984? The constant monitor of Big Brother, the telescreen picked up every sound, every movement the citizens made and transmitted it to Big Brother. Nothing within the view of the telescreen was sacred.

Well, according to a disturbing report I heard today on NPR, we have a new telescreen – the e-reader. The same antenna within the e-reader that allows you to download books also transmits data from your reading habits back to the e-book vendor. It not only knows what books you’re reading – it knows how long you spent on each page, what pages you skipped, and if you peeked ahead to the end of the book. It knows what books you downloaded and never read. It knows what books you auditioned and rejected. It knows what time of day you’re reading, and could conceivably, track your location too. Like an electronic Santa, your e-reader sees you when you’re sleeping, knows when you’re awake, knows when you’ve been bad or good – okay, I’m sure you get the idea.

So is this a dangerous invasion of privacy or just clever marketers on steroids collecting data to bring you better literature? Read the full story, then you decide.


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8 thoughts on “1984 is Now

    • I find it scary too. When one buys the right to download the e-book, it becomes theirs. No one should be allowed to spy on them while they’re reading it. What will be next?

  1. oh, there are so many things being tracked about us every day…these are just some we know about…I never give my postal code / phone number when they ask at a register, that is just for them to track your spending too.

    when using an eReader, you can turn off the antenna to read (after you download)..that stops some of the snooping!

    • I try to avoid the zip code/phone number when asked in stores too.

      Good to know that you can turn off the antenna on the e-reader, but I wonder if it still collects data and just sends it the next time the antenna is on? Since you’re the tech person, perhaps you can enlighten us more.

    • I’m not surprised. While I love the feel of a book in my hands, I can see the advantage of loading a bunch of books into the e-reader and taking off for the beach or vacation. I don’t like Big Brother watching me though.

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