32

One of my Kindles spends most of it's time in the car. Most books are loaded to it from my PC, via Calibre. I almost never turn the WiFi on because it just burns up the batteries looking for a connection.

When I do turn the WiFi on it seems to stumble all over itself trying to do something. It can take an hour or more, and often requires more than one hard reboot to get it working again. In my imagination it is telling Amazon, what books I loaded on to it from Smashwords.

According to Amazon.com Privacy Notice, they don't track anything from Kindle, but this seems unlikely to me. What information does my Kindle tell Amazon via the WiFi?

  • which kindle model do you speak of? (1,2,3,4, fire, dx, etc) – n611x007 Dec 30 '13 at 19:08
  • @naxa I have a keyboard & a paperwhite, I assume the sharing is essentially the same across models, but if you have specifics by model that would make for a great answer! – James Jenkins Dec 30 '13 at 19:15
17

Hard to guess what information sends or what the device can do when connected via WiFi when this information is not open and probable it will not be.

Take as an example this incident( article excerpt/ my emphasis):

Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle

...

Digital books bought for the Kindle are sent to it over a wireless network. Amazon can also use that network to synchronize electronic books between devices — and apparently to make them vanish.

...

and also this incident where the account was also closed(excerpt/my emphasis):

Why did amazon close a woman’s account and delete all her kindle books?

...

According to Amazon’s terms of use, “Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider.” It states that “Risk of loss for Kindle Content transfers when you download or access the Kindle Content.

...

This are by no means isolated, and are a far cry from the Privacy Notice you mentioned, and made me keep always the Wi-Fi off and backup my documents.

  • 3
    Could you go into a bit more detail about the two incidents? I seem to recall that both were about removing books that customers had already purchased. As such, they are less about the device gathering and transmitting information and more about the slippery concept of ownership vs. licensure. Troubling? Yes. Relevant to the question? Not so much. – Jon Ericson Dec 21 '13 at 4:59
  • 1
    @JonEricson Since the decision to delete those books, from what I understand, was done in the cloud and not on the device, it was based on information sent by the device to the cloud, so the two incidents are pretty much relevant IMHO. – Eduard Florinescu Dec 21 '13 at 15:22
13

As Ed Cottrell already stated there is no way to tell, especially if traffic is encrypted.

There is at least one guy who analyzed the traffic over the course of ten hours. He could not find evidence for the sending of any logs. Instead the Kindle only sent the same package over and over again (real logs would change over time).

Most people who claim that data is transmitted to Amazon refer to this thread, which claims that the script /usr/bin/showlogs is "packaging" the data for being sent to Amazon. This script does indeed concatenate old log files. I do however wonder how he makes the connection to logs being sent to Amazon. The results of grepping all files on my Kindle 3 show that there are (at least) two programs that call it:

  • /test/misc/checklogs.sh strips away most lines in these logs. The information that is left is low level hardware stuff (like "SDIO: sdio_card_irq_put" or register dumps), cronjob notifications (only normal loggers and performance/power, nothing that implies files being sent), daemon start/stops (on reboot), profiling output and several lines about network connections (e.g. Lease of xxx.xxx.0.107 obtained, lease time 604800). All these data is anonymized enough that the only problematic information they could see is, that I jailbroke my Kindle (due to output from the usbnetwork hack).

  • test/diags/factory/system_diags.sh, which zips the unfiltered log and stores them somewhere where the user can actually see them (comparable to typing ;dumpMessages in the search window).

Of course these are only the occurrences where the script is called from other scripts. They are probably also called from binaries so no one knows.

Here are some lines that could be used to get personal data about you.

#Which books you read (from Amazon, sent via Amazon, copied via USB / downloaded via browser)
140129:134959 cvm[3716]: I Reader:BOOK INFO:book asin=B004UO32XO,file size=1413044,file last mod date=2014-01-01 23.26.34 +0105,content type=ebook,length=MobiPosition_ 218620,access=2014-01-29 13.50.50 +0105,last read position=MobiPosition_ 25308,isEncrypted=false,isSample=false,isNew=false,isTTSMetdataPresent=true,isTTSMetadataAllowed=true,fileExtn=azw:
140109:205652 cvm[3716]: I Reader:BOOK INFO:book asin=BTPHGRQ6BAGPRU4M3JPCR4PV2DNNPBZO,file size=1101110,file last mod date=2013-08-11 14.27.56 +0103,content type=ebook,length=MobiPosition_ 2372225,access=2013-12-25 10.10.18 +0103,last read position=MobiPosition_ 1090739,isEncrypted=false,isSample=false,isNew=false,isTTSMetdataPresent=true,isTTSMetadataAllowed=true,fileExtn=azw:
140129:135140 cvm[3716]: I Reader:BOOK INFO:book asin=unknown,file size=153384,file last mod date=2014-01-02 19.10.24 +0105,content type=ebook,length=MobiPosition_ 241149,access=2014-01-29 13.54.55 +0105,last read position=MobiPosition_ 6251,isEncrypted=false,isSample=false,isNew=false,isTTSMetdataPresent=false,isTTSMetadataAllowed=true,fileExtn=prc:

#KPDFviewer started via kite behaves like a real pdf
140129:135452 cvm[3716]: I Reader:BOOK INFO:book asin=unknown,file size=716,file last mod date=2013-04-16 23.29.58 +0105,content type=ebook,length=0.0 (0 1) _  -1_ -1 0,access=2014-01-29 13.49.42 +0105,last read position=0.0 (0 1) _  -1_ -1 0,isEncrypted=false,isSample=false,isNew=false,isTTSMetdataPresent=false,isTTSMetadataAllowed=true,fileExtn=pdf:

#Which books are in which collection (including collection name)
140102:191934 cvm[3716]: I NamedCollectionImpl:AddingItem:collection=Fachbuch,asin=null,itemHash=-762173641:String

#When you open a book, pressed buttons (flip pages) or went to the home screen
140129:134959 cvm[3716]: I Reader:BOOK INFO:book asin=B004UO32XO,file size=1413044,file last mod date=2014-01-01 23.26.34 +0105,content type=ebook,length=MobiPosition_ 218620,access=2014-01-29 13.50.50 +0105,last read position=MobiPosition_ 25308,isEncrypted=false,isSample=false,isNew=false,isTTSMetdataPresent=true,isTTSMetadataAllowed=true,fileExtn=azw:
140109:205700 cvm[3716]: I FrameworkKeyEventDispatcher:USER_HARDKEY_PRESS:KeyPressed=Right_PrevPage:User pressed Right Side Turn Prev Page button
140129:135609 cvm[3716]: I GUIManager:HomeViewSwitch:view=CollectionView:

#Battery parameters and temperature (even display temperature)
140129:135721 powerd[2442]: I def:battinfo:cap=58%, mAh=831mAh, volt=3835mV, current=317mA, temp=82F, bp=3835mV, lmd=1443mAh, cycl=1, cyct=12:
140129:135302 eink_fb: I bs_cmd_ld_img_upd_data_which:def:temp=31C:from pmica

#That you searched (not what!)
140129:135856 cvm[3716]: I Search:COMPLETED:milliseconds=2150:

Except for how slow you read, when you use the browser (which sites you browse is not included) and how warm it is where you are (inside/outside?) there are barely personal information. Even the books are only identified if you received them via Amazon. If they would use it, why would they ask me to rate a book I have not yet started to read.

The data may be useful to spot things like "The display is damaged and you used it at -40°C" and for troubleshooting and debugging, but not for a real analysis of what you read.

Of course there can always be binary programs that collect more information and send them. And even if they are not there, Amazon could ship them with the next update. Nobody knows for sure, but this is the same for any ebook reader, tablet, phone and even pc.

8

It's impossible to know without examining the data itself (or getting a high-level tech job at Amazon). You could try to intercept the data transmitted by the device by either sniffing the data or simply forcing it to connect through your computer. But if they are encrypting the transmissions, as they should be, then you won't be able to read the data beyond "envelope" information like the domain requested, (very) approximate size of the data, etc.

2

I have mostly been reading works from Smashwords on my Kindle white. I keep all of my books on Calibre and move them over to my Kindle when ready to read them. I also leave the wireless on so it has internet access all the time.

On or about July 15, Kindle pushed out an upgrade and installed on my kindle white (of course they did not ask they just installed it) at that time I happened to have a work that I acquired from amazon on March of 2013 on my white (Weekend Homesteader: August) which I was just finishing reading. It has been at least a couple months since the last time I had a work from Amazon on my white.

Imagine my surprise when I found an email from Amazon asking me to rate the work that I got from them 2 years ago. I think it fair to assume that Amazon is monitoring and communicating everything it can from your Kindle to their databases.

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  • 2
    P.S. I have turned off the wireless now. – James Jenkins Jul 16 '15 at 12:44

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