The Beloved had an interesting question for me.
If Donald Trump were elected president, what would life be like for e-book-readers in the U.S. and elsewhere?
We’re Canadians. Under Trump would the American government care much more about people’s private reading habits no matter where they lived? At first glance that’s a daily small potatoes sort of question, given the other feet The Donald is putting in his mouth these days. We’re not talking about the most probable future occupant of the Oval Office.
Still, who’d have thought Trump would have gotten this far? What’s more, the Beloved tells me that a co-worker of his is of the paranoid sort and has given these matters some thought. The co-worker has been nervous about getting into e-books because he doesn’t want Amazon having all of this information on him.
And you know, I think it might in some cases be a valid concern, Trump or no Trump. I recall a story I read years ago about a woman whose pregnancy was outed to her family before she told them because Walmart sent her a packet of ‘so, you are going to be a mother…’ coupons. It turned out that they compiled a list, based on aggregated purchase histories, of what were the most common products newly pregnancy women bought. When you bought a certain percentage of the items on that list, Walmart made the connection that you were expecting, and sent you the coupons.
Now, imagine if Amazon had a list of every book that the last, say, 30 perpetrators of mass shootings or terrorist events had purchased. Now, say they could aggregate that data and generate a list of 100 books. What could a security-focused individual such as Trump do with such data? How many books from that list would a person have to buy before Trump’s feds flagged them?
- With ‘affiliated businesses’ such as Marketplace sellers, to fulfill your order
- With ‘third-party service providers,’ for the same reason
- For promotional offers, which you can opt out of
- To transfer your customer record if a part of their company is bought to sold
- To comply with law enforcement officials, e.g. fraud, credit risk protection