They know where you’ve gone–
The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and others are raising the red flag about issues related to the Kindle Fire’s browser, Silk. The browser maintains a wireless connection with Amazon’s Cloud servers and keeps a running tally of where users have visited on the Internet.
This information includes the logging of originating IP addresses that identifies the wireless network location or the specific Kindle Fire device being used.
Surfing data is collected annonymously and the actual identity of indiviudals is not known, only the distinations of where they’ve been on the Internet. Sensitive information related to online shopping accounts and other private information is handled via each visited website’s SSL (secure socket layer) encryption and remains private.
So for San Franciscans doing their favorite online shopping activities at secure websites, there is no need to worry.
It goes through Amazon first
When surfing with the Silk browser users will not directly connect to the webpages they will be visiting but will first go through Amazon’s servers, and then to the destination webpage. This is how Amazon tracks surfing infomation because it acts as a clearing house for all user web traffic from the Kindle Fire.
EFF said of this potential privacy issue:
“We’ll definitely be following the developments, as browser history is very sensitive information, including data about your interests, your concerns, and your private life.”
Turn it off
If this were the end to the story, it would be reason enough not to use the Kindle Fire’s Silk browser, however, there is a simple solution to the problem; don’t connect to Amazon’s server when using Silk; the browser still works without the Amazon server link.
But the big question is how many users will be aware of the aggregate collection of data when using Silk in the connected server mode, and even more importantly, will they know how to disable this “feafure.”
Amazon stated that any aggregate information it collects isn’t permanently stored:
“We generally do not keep this information for longer than 30 days.”
Then why collect the information at all? Because statistics on user preference is highly valued by businesses in order to gauge consumer interest in products, services, and general trends.
Read the not-so-fine print
The common policy of info gathering is nothing new as many “free” software programs state in their terms of service agreements, which hardly anyone reads, that aggregate information will be collected in exchange for the free use of the product.
So for users who don’t want their annonymous surfing history tracked, read the “I agree” statement before accepting the software or in the case of the Kindle Fire Silk browser, disconnect from the Amazon server first.
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