Adobe responds to ALA concerns over e-book privacy

There has been much concern regarding the recent reports of Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) collecting and sending unencrypted user data back to Adobe for reasons that are not entirely clear. Adobe responded to the criticisms targeted at them, stating: “User privacy is very important . . . all data collection in ADE is in line with the end user license agreement and the Adobe Privacy Policy.” They claim that the data collection is only used for proper “license validation” and to help accommodate and facilitate the different models by publishers and distributors, but it doesn’t add up to the personal data they’ve been gathering. This data includes “reader account information, device ID, pages read (at least in the ADE library, but possibly other ebooks),” as well as the book information and other metadata for it–all being sent to Adobe’s server.

This breach in reader privacy and the unnecessary collection of user data raises even more concerns that had the ALA asking the questions we’re all wondering: “Are all of the data elements collected necessary for product functionality? Is such sensitive user data deleted soon after the need for the operational purposes is fulfilled?”

Over all, why does Adobe collect this data, to what end, and how can we be assured that our information in the digital realm is protected at all?