And when you go to a library and borrow, say, Selena Robert's "A-Rod," it's not likely that your librarian will ever tell Harper Collins -- or anyone else -- that you've done so.
Should the situation be different for digital newspapers and books? Rupert Murdoch apparently thinks the answer is yes.
In a statement that appears tone deaf to the privacy concerns surrounding digital media, the head of News Corp. recently announced that the company might stop allowing its material to be sold on the Kindle because Amazon doesn't disclose subscriber names. "Kindle treats them as their subscribers, not as ours, and I think that will eventually cause a break with us," he said this week.
Techdirt's Mike Masnick points out that consumers might not be thrilled by an Amazon decision to reveal users' identities. And, realistically, at least people would almost certainly object to Amazon sharing any information at all with publishers.
On the other hand, many others might not be troubled should Amazon share information about them. In fact, they might be happy to reveal their identities to publishers -- perhaps because they hope to then receive discounts.
But that doesn't mean that companies like News Corp. can demand that Amazon share information about consumers.
Consider, News Corp's own advertisers probably would like the names or contact information of people who click on ads at the Journal's site. Perhaps those readers wouldn't mind sharing that information, either. But News Corp. presumably wouldn't just hand that information over -- at least not without people's consent.