Has our library made a deal with the corporate devil?


With much fanfare Pima County Public Library (PCPL) announced last year that its patrons can now download a limited selection of books for use on Amazon.com’s Kindle e-readers. There’s just one catch: Amazon will keep track of what you are reading, when you are reading it, and will keep any notes you make on your Kindle about the book you are reading. And that’s just the beginning of the conditions (see the library’s notice below for a full list of the conditions of use). If this is what the e-book future will look like for library users, we face a bleak time of corporate oversight and dominance as these conditions of use are no different from the ones that regular customers of Kindles must endure.

Our library, and many other public libraries, bravely stood up to the Bush administration in the wake of the Patriot Act mandating that that libraries turn over borrower records to the government. Apparently (and this shouldn’t really surprise any Occupier), the corporations are not such an easy force to stand up to as many other libraries have similarly agreed to let Amazon record and monitor the personal and–until now–intimate reading habits and thoughts of its patrons.

The following information is from the PCPL web site, fairly well-hidden at the bottom of a page titled “Borrow a Library eBook on your Kindle” (http://www.library.pima.gov/about/news/?id=3646):

A Note to Kindle Owners about Privacy

The Pima County Public Library (PCPL) takes its responsibilities to protect your privacy very seriously. PCPL also wishes to offer as broad an array of electronic services as possible to its customers, including the ability to access e-books on a variety of personal electronic devices. PCPL has the ability to provide e-book services to Kindle users. However, this service comes with certain requirements that will compromise the privacy accorded to PCPL customers.

In order to access this service, Kindle users must open an account with Amazon.  There is no charge for the account and no purchase is ever required.  However, by opening an Amazon account to access library materials, you will be agreeing to Amazon’s terms and conditions of use.

Amazon will:

  • Maintain specific data on all information you access through the library service;
  • Keep track of what you are reading (and, possibly, monitor what you are reading);
  • Keep any notes you make on your Kindle regarding library materials;
  • Log data on searches of library records made on Kindle and associate that information with your account; and,
  • Provide marketing materials and advertisements (unless you specifically pay to opt-out of receiving personalized advertisements).

Amazon may share the data collected about your Kindle use with law enforcement, other government agencies, third parties as required by law or to protect the rights of Amazon or others without warrant or a court order.


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