Adobe's e-reader software collects less data now, EFF says

Digital Editions 4.0.1 doesn't send data on e-books without DRM and uses encryption

Tests on the latest version of Adobe System's e-reader software shows the company is now collecting less data following a privacy-related dustup last month, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Digital Editions version 4.0.1 appears to only collect data on e-books that have DRM (Digital Rights Management), wrote Cooper Quintin, a staff technologist with the EFF. DRM places restrictions on how content can be used with the intent of thwarting piracy.

Adobe was criticized in early October after it was discovered Digital Editions collected metadata about e-books on a device, even if the e-books did not have DRM. Those logs were also sent to Adobe in plain text.

Since that data was not encrypted, critics including the EFF contended it posed major privacy risks for users. For example, plain text content could be intercepted by an interloper from a user who is on the same public Wi-Fi network.

Adobe said on Oct. 23 it fixed the issues in 4.0.1, saying it would not collect data on e-books without DRM and encrypt data that is transmitted back to the company.

Quintin wrote the EFF's latest test showed the "only time we saw data going back to an Adobe server was when an e-book with DRM was opened for the first time. This data is most likely being sent back for DRM verification purposes, and it is being sent over HTTPS."

If an e-book has DRM, Adobe may record how long a person reads it or the percentage of the content that is read, which is used for "metered" pricing models.

Other technical metrics are also collected, such as the IP address of the device downloading a book, a unique ID assigned to the specific applications being used at the time and a unique ID for the device, according to Adobe.

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