Privacy Concerns about E-book Borrowing

Do you borrow e-books and downloadable audio books through the library via our subscription to Overdrive?
If so, and you use the Overdrive Media Console app on your mobile device or Adobe Digital Editions on your computer, you may be interested in recent news about Adobe Digital Editions Version 4 and possible security breaches. There has been a lot of information out there, not all of it accurate, but the bottom line is that with the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions, Adobe has been tracking the content of its users.

Borrowing E-books
Those of you who have downloaded the Overdrive Media Console app or Adobe Digital Editions in the past will recall that you needed to create an account with Adobe in order to authorize the software to download e-books from the library. Most of you probably only signed into the account once in order to authorize your device and likely forgot that you ever set up a username and password with Adobe. As long as you used an app or Adobe Digital Editions on a device that was authorized, however, you were always logged into your Adobe account. Allegedly, anyone using the older versions of Adobe Digital Editions is not affected by the security breach. Users can use the Overdrive Read option which allows them to read e-books directly in their browsers. There is, of course, always the option to download Kindle books from Overdrive to read on a Kindle app, but in that case, the user is just allowing Amazon rather than Adobe to access his or her content. Amazon is just more up front about it. According to a statement from Overdrive, the company’s CEO met with representatives from Adobe who claimed that an update to Adobe Digital Editions Version 4 is in the works.

Public Libraries and Privacy
As public library employees, we strive to maintain your privacy as much as possible, and we were not happy to hear this news. In fact, state law requires us to keep information about your library record private. This means we can’t share any information about items checked out to your card to anyone, including your significant other or parents. This also means we can’t share information about your computer habits. To further protect your privacy, we have installed software on all of our public computers that erases all information such as passwords and downloaded files every time the computer shuts down. Our public desktops shut down after each use, and we ask all laptop users to turn their computers off before returning them.

The Online World
Unfortunately, we can’t control what third party vendors and other websites do with your information, whether you’re using a computer in the library or at home. If you want to watch a Youtube video and don’t want Google to know about it, make sure that you log out of your Google account before visiting Youtube. If you see an interesting link on Facebook, for example, and don’t want Facebook arranging ads based on that link, visit the link after you’ve logged out of your Facebook session. It’s always best to assume that any third party website that requires you to use a username and password is using your information for some reason. It’s usually only for marketing research but it is always good to read the fine print.

You Can Choose What you Do Online
We know that many of you share a great deal online and possibly have no concern about this issue. People’s reading habits have hardly been secrets. Social media sites such as Good Reads and Library Thing have allowed users to share their reading habits with the masses, willingly. Even Bibliocommons, a Patron Online Catalog used by several library systems such as the Boston Public Library, allows patrons, if they choose, to share information about books they have checked out. The difference, of course, is that users of the above mentioned products are all voluntarily sharing information. Some of those checking out e-books through Overdrive or other library digital media platform may not necessarily be so willing. If you are not one of those who’s comfortable with sharing information on the Internet, always be aware anytime you are asked to create a username and password.

Further Reading:

posted by Laura

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