Friday, October 10, 2014

Can Adobe see which ebooks you are reading?

As you probably know, Armacost Library offers a wide and growing selection of ebooks through our Ebsco Ebook Collection. Ebsco acquires distribution rights to the texts in EPUB format from various publishers and sells them to libraries. You can read these books online and take notes or print selected portions directly from your browser. If you want to read these books offline or transfer them to a mobile device, you need to download Adobe Digital Editions software, since the texts are protected by digital rights management (DRM) software at the publisher's request.

This week, Armacost Library learned that the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions automatically compiles information on users' reading history - including the titles of ebooks, the date and time they were read, a unique identifier for the reading device and its Internet address  - and transmits this information to an Adobe server in unencrypted, plain text that could easily be intercepted by a third party.

Protecting patron privacy is one a core library value. The functionality revealed this week goes against the tenets of anonymity and data integrity described in Armacost Library's privacy policy and undermines our ability to provide you with trustworthy resources for your teaching and learning.

While we pursue the matter further with Ebsco, there are a couple options you can take immediately if you feel that your privacy is being violated. According to user reports, only version 4 of Adobe Digital Editions transmits information to Adobe. You can install version 3 of the software from

Alternatively, you can remove Adobe Digital Editions altogether and simply read ebooks in your browser. Ebsco's database interface allows you to view ebooks on computers and mobile devices alike, no special downloads needed.

Finally, we encourage you to contact your librarian if you would like help finding physical books from our collection, or from another library near you.

Best regards,
Sanjeet Mann
Electronic Resources Librarian
Armacost Library

No comments :