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Wednesday News: The Adobe Digital WTF Edition

Wednesday News: The Adobe Digital WTF Edition

Digital Editions (DE) has been used by many public libraries as a recommended application for patrons wanting to borrow electronic books (particularly with the Overdrive e-book lending system), because it can enforce digital rights management rules on how long a book may be read for. But DE also reports back data on e-books that have been purchased or self-published. Those logs are transmitted over an unencrypted HTTP connection back to a server at Adobe—a server with the Domain Name Service hostname “adelogs.adobe.com”—as an unencrypted file (the data format of which appears to be JSON).

The behavior is part of Adobe’s way of managing access to e-books borrowed from a library or “lent” by other users through online bookstores supporting the EPUB book format, such as Barnes & Noble. If you’ve “activated” Digital Editions with an Adobe ID, it uses that information to determine whether a book has been “locked” on another device using the same ID to read it or if the loan has expired. If the reader isn’t activated, it uses an anonymous unique ID code generated for each DE installation. –Ars Technica

Reached for comment, Adobe confirms that those data gathering practices are indeed in place. “Adobe Digital Editions allows users to view and manage eBooks and other digital publications across their preferred reading devices—whether they purchase or borrow them,” Adobe said in a statement this afternoon. The statement continues:

“All information collected from the user is collected solely for purposes such as license validation and to facilitate the implementation of different licensing models by publishers. Additionally, this information is solely collected for the eBook currently being read by the user and not for any other eBook in the user’s library or read/available in any other reader. User privacy is very important to Adobe, and all data collection in Adobe Digital Editions is in line with the end user license agreement and the Adobe Privacy Policy.” –Digital Book World

I have followed up on this story and looked into the earlier versions of Digital Editions, just to see how long Adobe may have been spying on users. After testing DE2 and DE3 I can report, and others can confirm, that neither app appears to be tracking my reading habits nor uploading details about my ebook library.

The older apps do send some information to Adobe, but the data packet is small enough that it can’t hold much more than info required to authorize the DRM. So if you need one of Adobe’s apps, you do have safer options than DE4. –The Digital Reader

Tuesday News: Reddit’s dilemma, Adobe Digital Edition 4, Baptist responds to The Economist, and authors buying reviews

Tuesday News: Reddit’s dilemma, Adobe Digital Edition 4, Baptist responds to...

It is pretty much impossible to be a free speech absolutist without having to defend the right to publicize some really skeevy stuff. And for absolutist First Amendment attorneys and scholars, the principle might be enough. But for the corporate entity Reddit (which is largely owned by Conde Nast’s parent company), the “ideal” of unfettered free speech is unlikely to remain uncompromised – for good and bad.

The challenge for Reddit now is: How does it retain its commitment to such free-speech principles while it is trying to raise money from a group of what could be nervous or conservative venture funds? Twitter has also wrestled with its early commitment to being the “free-speech wing of the free-speech party,” and its desire to grow and generate revenue for its public shareholders has led to a form of quasi-censorship in which certain tweets and accounts are banned or hidden from users at the request of governments. But Twitter’s challenges are like a day at the beach compared with Reddit’s.

Remaining committed to free speech is hard enough when the speech you are trying to protect is violent or homophobic or repulsive in a number of other ways, but it becomes exponentially more difficult when you have investors with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line breathing down your neck. Will Reddit start to water down its commitment, in the hope that it can bridge those two divides without losing its soul? Or will it be forced to mimic Facebook, which routinely removes photos of women breast-feeding and never says why? –Gigaom

For example, Adobe DE 4.0 does not support embedded audio or video, and it is also lacking support for basics like right to left languages (Arabic, Hebrew, etc) . The search function is incomplete, and the app is also lacking advanced rendering features (such as knockout, overprint, and non-separable blend modes). And last but not least, mouse wheel scrolling is officially not supported for Epub3 ebooks. –The Digital Reader

But the Economist didn’t apologize for dismissing what slaves said about slavery. That kind of arrogance remains part of a wider, more subtle pattern in how black testimony often gets treated – sometimes unknowingly – as less reliable than white. The Economist reviewer was saying that the key sources of my book, African Americans – black people – cannot be believed.

As the historian Jelani Cobb pointed out to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Friday night, the reviewer’s ideas about slavery’s history are not actually as uncommon as many of us would like to believe. He’s right: All across the American south, you can go to historic plantation sites still pushing the idea that slaves who had a “good” master were happy, and “faithful.” –The Guardian

To date — it’s currently Sunday, 7 September 2014 — no Goodreads author has lost her or his account due to buying of fiverr reviews. Even though Patrick, Director of Author Marketing (or whatever his official title is) hinted that authors could be deleted if they were buying fiverr reviews, not one has been so terminated.
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Frustration with Goodreads’ lack of action on this issue prompted me to announce publicly that I would no longer spend my limited free time doing their job for them. I would not track down the information, collect the screen shots, do the leg work to clean up their site of fraudulent — and illegal — “ads” masquerading as customer reviews. I didn’t say I’d stop doing it; I just wasn’t going to give the information to Goodreads any more. I was, shall we say, moving house. –Linda Hilton