Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 eReader Privacy Statement and Recommendations

Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 eReader Privacy Statement and Recommendations

Update 10/24/14: As of yesterday, 10/23/14, Adobe has reported that Adobe Digital Editions 4 data is now being transmitted securely. See Adobe's Privacy Center for more details on what personal data they collect and how that data is transmitted.

The San Jose Public Library, along with other public libraries, places a high value on patron intellectual freedom and privacy associated with borrowing activities. As virtual content becomes more popular and ubiquitous, an increasing amount of patron use of these materials occurs using third-party tools.

To provide access to online materials, it is necessary for these third parties to capture some basic information, such as links to which eBook is associated with a specific user ID, which device a patron most recently used for reading, and the location within the eBook where the reader stopped reading on that device. Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 (ADE4), as well as any eReader app with multi-device syncing capabilities turned on, will collect this type of information on any eBook that is opened within the app.

Recently, it has come to light that ADE4 has been collecting more information than necessary about a person's reading habits and transmitting that data through insecure channels. When we discover a compromise in privacy, we take whatever actions we’re able.

These include coordinating with other public libraries to seek a remedy from the vendor, reviewing the pros and cons of offering individual third-party services and assessing whether our privacy policies need revision to help patrons make informed choices. We’re taking all three of these steps currently in light of the issue with ADE4.

We believe this issue affects only patrons who use the latest version of ADE4 to download and read eBooks on a desktop or laptop computer (PC or Mac), or use a computer to transfer eBooks to an eReader.

For customers reading SJPL eBooks on their desktop or using ADE4 to transfer eBooks to an eReader we recommend:

  • Uninstall Adobe Digital Editions 4 and replace it with an earlier version, or with the BlueFire reader.
  • For OverDrive eBooks, use OverDrive Read, which is browser-based.
  • For Axis 360 eBooks, choose the Blio format.
  • Read eBooks on a phone or tablet using the OverDrive app, Axis Reader or the Blio app (for Axis 360 eBooks) or the BlueFire reader (for EbscoHost eBooks).

We will continue to work diligently with our broader public library community to address this security issue until it is resolved.


According to the link on top of the article, Adobe still collects highly sensitive patron information that is none of their business. "Duration for Which the Book was Read" and "Percentage of the eBook Read" may sound innocuous at first, but... ... if you check out Meyer's Medical Encyclopedia, they will know that you spent 30 hours reading the chapter on sexually transmitted diseases and re-read the part on genital warts 5 times. Maybe they collect even more. The data is now encrypted, so only they know. I don't want my library parcel tax to fund Adobe collecting my and my children's personal information. Please do not amend the library privacy policies to cover Adobe's illegal practice. Audiobooks are now mostly DRM-free mp3s, which works very well. Overdrive actually just discontinued DRMed files and is only offering mp3s. Adobe should be similarly discontinued. The DRM is not providing any value to customer or publisher. It would even lead to a better user experience as the books could be read on any device. Finally I'd like to thank you for addressing this serious security issue and privacy violation. Keep up the good work! Steve

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