O Privacy, Where Art Thou?

A violation of privacy

A very disturbing discovery has been made. The software used by the St. Mary’s library, University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) libraries, and countless other academic and public libraries to lend ebooks is knowingly violating users’ privacy.

As documented in Ars Technica, Adobe Digital Editions tracks and compiles data on which ebooks users download and read, and exactly what each user does with those books. Worse yet, Adobe is sending that information to its servers in plain text, using unencrypted channels, so just about anyone could access that information. Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader made the discovery on October 6, 2014, but the violation is believed to have started with the release of Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 in early September.

 

How it works

Adobe Digital Editions is used by many libraries as a PDF reader for ebook lending to control the digital rights management (DRM) on all borrowed ebooks. This software is essentially what “returns” a borrowed ebook when the loan expires by removing it from a borrower’s computer. Most ebook publishers require a DRM as part of the licensing or sales agreement to ensure intellectual property rights are not violated by end users.

 

Our reaction

Librarians are furious. As you may recall from when Edward Snowden leaked the NSA’s secrets, librarians value their patrons’ privacy and take every possible precaution to ensure privacy is maintained.  The American Library Association (ALA) has issued this statement and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) has published this blog post in reaction to the news. Quoted from the ALA statement:

In response to ALA’s request for information, Adobe reports they “expect an update to be available no later than the week of October 20” in terms of transmission of reader data.

Here at St. Mary’s, we will be keeping a close eye on the situation.

 

Update 10/29/2014:

Adobe made available a software update on Friday, October 24th which includes an encryption mechanism so all user data gathered by and sent to Adobe’s servers is no longer transmitted in plain text.  ADE users can download the update (and read Adobe’s privacy statement) here. The American Library Association issued a statement on October 27, 2014 and Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader published an update on the privacy breach on October 23rd.

Advertisements

Our Video Project Returns (and it’s good y’all)

This fall the library was granted another year of funding through the Career Development Center’s Professional Fellowship Program to hire an instructional media fellow. Our hire this year is Eden Anbinder, a Computer Science major, video hobbyist and all-around creative human being.

Thanks to some fantastic TFMS coursework, a great sense of humor and innate talent, Eden has developed two a new short film about eBooks (EBooks: You Decide!), which is a spoof on 1950s instructional videos, and a short video about our new Films on Demand streaming video database.

Take a minute or two, relax, and enjoy the show:

Reading this Summer?

Reading on the Beach

Reading on the Beach by Courtney McGough on Flickr

Last weekend I broke down. I bought a Kindle (a Kindle Paperwhite to be exact). Despite my ambivalence towards e-reading, it’s getting harder for me to deny the conveniences of an e-reader. I’m a reader. Although chasing a toddler around the house has but a kink in my reading style, I still try to get in as much eyeball-to-text time as I possibly can. When I go on a trip, I take as much care and effort packing my reading materials as I do packing my clothes. This little 5 x 7 inch device is making upcoming travel so much more convenient and amazingly less stressful. Instead of trying to squeeze in 3-4 different volumes I can just pop that Kindle in my purse and call it a day. It’s fantastic.

Will I stop buying and checking out print books from the library? No way. In fact, as I type, I have two books on my nightstand from the St. Mary’s County Library. The Kindle is just a new addition to my reading lifestyle and a great way to kick off the summer reading season. If you’re interested in getting your summer reading off right, the SMCM Library can help.

Kindles

We have 6 different Kindles for SMCM students, faculty, and staff to borrow loaded with all kinds of fantastic fiction. Want to find out what all the Game of Thrones fuss is about? Read it on our Kindle Fire. Curious about Gone Girl or Kate Atkinson’s latest, Life after Life? Read one on a Kindle Touch. For more about our Kindles and the books on them, check out our online Kindle Guide.

Popular Reading Collection

If you’re more of a print-on-paper kind of reader. We have you covered. Our popular reading collection has a great selection of fiction and non-fiction bestsellers to help you take a break from heavy academic reading. Take a walk up to the 2nd floor and hang a left. In the reading area you’ll find a beautiful water-front view and our awesome Popular Reading Collection.

St. Mary’s County Public Libraries

I wouldn’t be doing my due-diligence as a librarian if I didn’t do a little cross-promotion. We are fortunate to have an amazing public library system in our county. If you haven’t visited one of the branches in Lexington Park, Leonardtown, or Charlotte Hall, please do it. Their book, movie, and music selection is amazing! A few weekends ago I picked up Tom Perotta’s The Leftovers, a copy of the Alabama Shakes album, and Dinosaur vs. The Potty, a board book for my son. They have fun summer programming for kids too!

Summer Book Club

Since you’re doing all this reading anyway, you might as well win a prize or two for your efforts. The SMCM Library’s Summer Reading Program continues this year and gives all SMCM students, faculty, staff, and alumni a chance to contribute book reviews to the Summer Reading Blog and win prizes.

Happy Reading,

Ronnie

eReader Petting Zoo

nook colorCurious about the Nook, Kindle, or iPad? Stop by the library Tuesday or Wednesday, April 10 & 11, to try them out and tell us what you think. Ereaders will be on display at the Circulation Desk.

If you haven’t completed the library’s eReader, eBooks, and Tablets Survey yet, there’s still time! It will only take a few minutes and your feedback will help us improve the library’s services and collection.