Am I The Only One Who Doesn’t Care About Adobe “Spying”?

A couple weeks ago I read an article about how Adobe is spying on its users with Digital Editions 4. Am I the only one who isn’t outraged by this? I actually couldn’t care less.

Before I get into that, here’s some background information from the article:

How is Adobe spying?

Adobe is collecting data from users of Adobe Digital Editions 4, the ePub application. Adobe logs data like: which ebooks have been opened, which pages were read, and supposedly even scanning other books on peoples’ hard drives. Adobe later denied that they scanned other eBooks in the library not being read.

The article also talked about how this data was all being sent in plain text. The author talked about this being a huge security breach and how the data could be easily intercepted by anyone during the transfer.

Why this doesn’t bother me at all

I’m not up in arms about this, I don’t feel like it’s a huge breach of my privacy or security. I’m not outraged. There are three main reasons why:

1. There is no data identifying who I am

At least from what I gathered in the article, all the data being sent is anonymous. Adobe isn’t passing along my full name or my email address. There’s no way to identify the data being sent as mine. So if anonymous data about which pages I’m reading and at what time is sent to Adobe’s servers, why should I care? I’m the only one who knows that’s my data.

2. None of the data is sensitive or private

Even if #1 weren’t the case, I still wouldn’t really care. Adobe isn’t sifting through my private documents or stealing my identity or dumping my passwords. They’re collecting information about the books I have and the pages I’ve read. Who cares? I put that information up on Goodreads.com for the whole world to see anyway. Sure maybe not everyone does that, but I still don’t consider any of this data to be sensitive material.

If it was my email, name, password, IP address, and home address, sure I’d find reason to be pissed. But it’s not. It’s just page numbers and book meta data.

3. It’s not a huge deal that the data is sent “in plain text”

Another one of the big points of the article is that the data is being sent to Adobe’s servers in plain text. Now, I am an advocate of using SSL when transferring private data. I use it on my e-commerce site, which accepts online payments (even though all transactions are processed on PayPal anyway…).

However, that being said, I’m not bothered by the data being transferred in plain text in this instance.

Before forming my opinion, I talked to my husband about it (Coding God, software engineer, degree in computer science, yada yada). His take on this was:

Sending data in plain text is only a problem if Adobe is compromised (which wouldn’t be a result of sending in plain text, just to be clear). If they were compromised, that would be a MUCH bigger problem in itself than the act of sending data in plain text.

The only other way the data could be “taken” is if someone has the ability to perform a man in the middle attack. This attack can be performed in one of two ways:

  1. An attacker is sharing your network connection. This could occur if you are on your home wifi (or a public wifi) then the attacker also connects to that same wifi network. Then, since they’re on the same network, they could intercept the data.
  2. Someone who owns a router between you and Adobe could also intercept the data. But this would require that the person be in a data center and actually care about stealing your “private” data about which book pages you’ve read. Highly unlikely.

There are two things to take away from this:

  1. Even if data is sent in plain text, it’s highly unlikely that the data would be intercepted.
  2. Even if the data was intercepted, who cares? Refer back to key point #2: none of the data is sensitive or private. What’s the worst that could happen? Someone chuckles at how long it took you to finish your ebook?

How do you feel about this?

Do you feel as if your security and privacy have been violated?

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I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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21 comments

  1. It really doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. People are so crazy about apps and sites like Google and Facebook collecting your data, but I rarely care. Apps collect data so they can see how you’re using the app, and that helps them make it better. My outlook on Google and facebook ads (which I realize may be biased, since I work for a search engine/Ad network) is this: websites are going to show ads. For many types of sites, it’s iust the best way to earn money and lots of people can’t just keep investing money into a site without making any from it. Cookies and stuff make it so that it’s more likely the ads are for things you might actually be interested in buying. I have no issue with ads if they’re unobtrusive and relevant to me.

    The data Adobe is collecting gives them insight that can help them improve. Their users should appreciate that. They may also pass the data along to the authors, which can be helpful for future writing.

    1. Yeah I really don’t care about that either. It’s not like there’s someone sitting there chuckling over what I do a google search for. (And even if they were, I’d never know about it, so whatevs..)

  2. I couldn’t care less either. There are plenty of ways out there to get the same information. I’d be much more worried about the ones who don’t make it common knowledge. Unless they’re identity thefts, it doesn’t really matter to me…I don’t have anything to hide. And I have to have my creative suite.

    J.K. Hogan recently posted: Not a GRL Recap…
    1. Exactly, I don’t have anything to hide either! I might be in the minority in this one, but I don’t even really care about the NSA spying for the exact same reason—I have nothing to hide. I’m not doing anything wrong. And it’s not even like there’s a person there giggling over what I type into Google—all that data is processed insanely quickly by computers. There’s not a real person sitting there staring at it. But even if they were, I don’t care.

  3. I didn’t care at all when this article came out. I just found it weird that Adobe would even want that information. What are they using it for? Okay, so someone is on page 69 of Fifty Shades of Grey and has the other two on their computer. Who cares?

    Plus I don’t use Adobe, have epub files, or even read ebooks on my computer, so *shrug*.

    Angie F. recently posted: Chick Flick Friday: You’ve Got Mail
    1. They could use it for debugging purposes and crash reports. Like if the app crashes, they would have the page information to be able to figure out what book you were reading and what page you were on when the crash happened.

      (I don’t know if that’s actually what they use it for, but it would make sense.)

      I doubt they’d collect that data without a reason. It might not be clear to us but there’s probably some use for it.

  4. Nope. I agree with you. I could care less if they see what I’m reading. Heck, I wish my library would keep a list of my books once I’d returned them. They don’t because of privacy issues (huh?) But it would be super helpful. So yeah. Pick your battles people.

    Leila @ LeilaReads recently posted: (Not) Hot Scot Saturday
  5. I don’t have the illusion that we can ever have any privacy. It’s too easy to spy. Then I always figure that there are billions of people in the world and if they spy on all of them there is no chance at all they will be interested in things I do at all. I don’t really care, I have nothing to hide anyway.

    Librarian Lavender recently posted: Happy Mail & Giveaway
  6. I do care and I made sure I’m not using this new version of ADE. I simply don’t want to share information with Adobe that won’t serve a useful purpose (I don’t need them to save my library, and they are not collection those data to improve their reader). No one takes note of what/when/how I read when I read a physical book, and I would like to have the same level of privacy when I read ePubs. What Adobe does is not a big disaster, but it just shows a trend I don’t like: careless data collection from users who were not properly informed (who reads the unreadable user agreement?).
    Also, those collected data are useful (to them). They are precise and detailed. If tomorrow Adobe decides to display ads within ADE, they will know exactly which advertising will be more efficient based on the data collected on you. Advertising annoys me, so I don’t want helping them annoying me :))

    Angélique recently posted: Review: The Page Turners by Kevin T. Johns
    1. They could be using that information for processing and analysing crash reports. Like if your app crashes, they’d have enough data to be able to determine what book you were reading and what page you were on, and analyse whether or not that was the issue or something else.

      I’m not sure if that’s ACTUALLY the case, but it’s a possibility.

      Also, I hate ads too. But if I have to see them, I would rather see ads that are relevant to me than ones that are completely irrelevant. 😛

  7. I thought I was the only one who didn’t care. But I also don’t care about Facebook’s earlier “experiment” on its users, or google’s more and more targeted ads, etc… I mean, it was like when my country discovered Australia has been spying on our government — what do you expect? It’s just not a big surprise for me. And as long as they don’t use any identifying information (which they might not even have to begin with) to chase me down where I live/work, or to publish that information online (such as Manda likes to read erotica every Saturday nights), then everything’s good. If they just use the information to send me ads, I can easily unsubscribe or just ignore it. Simple, really.

    1. Yeah I really don’t care either! I don’t even care that the NSA is spying on us. I guess I just feel that way because I know I’m not doing anything wrong, so what’s the big deal? I don’t have anything to hide, you know?

  8. This is the first time I’m hearing about this, and I could care less. Facebook and Google have been tracking my habits for so long now, and that hasn’t stopped me from using them yet. I’d ask that about anyone who isn’t a fan of this. Do you avoid the internet? Because essentially we are providing similar types of data when we are online too. And if you have an ereader, it is highly unlikely that they aren’t taking note of your activity. Also, I’d love to see what kind of info Adobe can glean from all of the data.

    Anne @ Lovely Literature recently posted: Series I’d like to consume
    1. Yeah practically every single page on the internet collects SOME kind of data, even if it’s just the bare minimum:

      1. Your IP address
      2. Logs which pages you visited on the site

      That right there is enough information to figure out your general geographic location (IP address), exact home address (with an IP + court order), and what your favourite pages on the site are (searching through the site access logs for that IP address).

  9. I learn to not care about this anymore. When I started on internet I was so scared for the information that someone could get about me but, there’s something called “Data Bank” (or something like that). Everybody who ever had enter on the web and created a account, even just one time, created this bank of information where everything that we made is there. Like EVERYTHING.

    There’s also the biggest spy organizations of all, which is about telecomunications that checks everyone looking for terrorims. We don’t have privacy anymore. So I really can’t care less for a random app traying to collect my book info. The most interesting they could get are erotic books but well… “Enjoy, people!”

    Giovana @ Corazones Literarios recently posted: #Blitz: Love Me To Death by Marissa Clarke (@MaryL_MarissaC)

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