back to article Adobe spies on reading habits over unencrypted web because your 'privacy is important'

Adobe confirmed its Digital Editions software insecurely phones home your ebook reading history to Adobe – to thwart piracy. And the company insisted the secret snooping is covered in its terms and conditions. Version 4 of the application makes a note of every page read, and when, in the digital tomes it accesses, and then …

Flame

There are evil lawyers involved.

Somebody has gotta simplify that agreement so it can actually be read!

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Re: Somebody has gotta simplify that agreement

Interesting idea. Seem to recall Google did exactly that, and the EU jumped all over it trying to get it back to several pages of baffling legalese.

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Re: Somebody has gotta simplify that agreement

LAWYERS!

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Holmes

Re: Somebody has gotta simplify that agreement

We need lawyers to get us out of problems that we never would have gotten into in the first place if it wasn't for lawyers.

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Re: Somebody has gotta simplify that agreement

the company will be issuing an update to fix it.

Yes, I've been robbing banks, but I plan to fix that in the future. That should get me off. No?

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FAIL

Never used it ...

... and now I never will.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never used it ...

Only use I've had for it is to strip the DRM out of legitimately purchased epubs.

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Flame

Shrinkwrap contracts...

I can't wait for this to get in front of a court.

Cue the lawyers.

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Facepalm

"Hoffelder claimed Digital Editions 4 slurped and leaked the metadata of all the ebooks on his system – not just the ones read using the application. Adobe said this shouldn't possible, but has its developers checking again to make sure this isn't a bug."

I'm sure it was just a rogue engine... programmer!

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A bug? In Adobe Software?

Say it's not so!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A bug? In Adobe Software?

Yeah, the one time when it almost certainly *isn't* a "bug", Adobe would like you to believe it is.

Or it was a rogue staff member they didn't know anything about, honest guv, and he's been sent on a special re-education course where he'll be taught that It's Bad To Insert Spyware Into Your Apps... even if your boss told you to do it^w^w^w^w^w^w^w^w^w and prove he's learned his lesson by completing a special multiple choice quiz that even an 8-year-old could get the right answers to.

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Coat

Re: A bug? In Adobe Software? Impossibru!

Adobe said this shouldn't possible

...so they accidentally the whole software!

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Or it would have if I'd let it...

Back when I could still see & PDF's weren't a *total* worthless pile of shite, I'd always listed Adobe Reader in the Firewall as Blocked & no connections allowed in either direction. It doesn't need to phone home, and I don't want it replying to anyone phoning in. It manually updated when I manually grabbed the latest version, ripped out the old, & installed the new.

Now that I can't see & PDF's are as useful as nipples on a rock, I don't even have it installed. But if I did, it would *still* be Blocked by the Firewall for the exact same reasons.

Do yourself, your friends, family, coworkers, & customers a massive favor & Stop Using Adobe. That includes Flash, PDF, and everything else. There are better ways, better programs, and better solutions.

If Adobe is the answer, the question was probably "Whom sucks harder than a nuclear powered hooker?"

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Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

This isn't about Adobe Reader, it's about Adobe Digital Editions - an eBook reader that's difficult to avoid if you want to read some Adobe DRM-protected eBooks.

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Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

"Whom sucks harder than a nuclear powered hooker?"

Hmmm... Say, is that band name taken?

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Thumb Down

Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

This isn't about Adobe Reader, it's about Adobe Digital Editions

Nevertheless, my trust in the company vanished entirely after reading this article. I'm going to delete all Adobe software from the computers I have control over, as much as feasible (it may be that removing Flash plugins from the home computers could cause too much domestic disturbance...).

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Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

I haven't used their Reader or Acrobat software in years, and Flash is installed but under tight controls.

I can't entirely cut out Adobe though, until credible alternatives to Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator come along (please, nobody say GIMP).

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Facepalm

Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

This isn't about Adobe Reader, it's about Adobe Digital Editions...

Well, the product in question is Digital Editions, but the article is concerned more broadly with Adobe, their actions and their responses which seem to be designed solely too deflect and mislead.

For friends and family, I have advocated ditching Reader because it is attacked enough to essentially qualify as malware in its own right. I was further encouraged to avoid their products when they moved to a subscription based program for their Creative Suite. I viewed this as milking it for all it was worth and am not interested in contributing to the Buy an Exec a Yacht charity program. This revelation was another nail in the proverbial coffin from my perspective, but the box had to be pulled out of the ground before the nail could be pounded in.

Next question: do other e-book reading applications and e-book readers also report home in the same manner?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

it may be that removing Flash plugins from the home computers could cause too much domestic disturbance...

It's OK & relatively painless to do this, you just have to make Chrome the default browser, then delete everything Adobe from your PC/Mac. On PC you can D/L "foxit" & keep it updated, Mac has Preview for pdf's. http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/

Chrome has the built-in (& always updated) Flash-Pepper player, keep checking "about Chrome" in order to update the browser itself. Uncheck all the spyware that Chrome offers {chrome://settings/ show Advanced Settings} then de-select the following: [If you need the protections then you can get this functionality free in OpenDNS without giving all your data to the Google Bubble]

[NO]Use a web service to help resolve navigation errors

[NO]Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar or the app launcher search box

[NO]Predict network actions to improve page load performance

[NO]Automatically report details of possible security incidents to Google

[NO]Enable phishing and malware protection

[NO]Use a web service to help resolve spelling errors

[NO]Automatically send usage statistics and crash reports to Google

[NO]Send a "Do Not Track" request with your browsing traffic

[NO]Enable "Ok Google" to start a voice search

add Ghostery extensions to all browsers, [Select All (1600+!!!) Trackers, Select "Enable tracker library auto-updating" but do not select "Enable Ghostrank"]

and remember to only use Gmail from your Firefox browser!

this works fine for me, family haven't yet noticed that they are in an Adobe-free environment!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

Foxit is worse than Adobe when it comes to installing adware/malware on your PC. I would avoid it and choose another.

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Re: please, nobody say GIMP

GIMP!

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Re: please, nobody say GIMP

Dammit Bob!

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Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

I like SumatraPDF as an alternative to Foxit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or it would have if I'd let it...

Can be done. Install digital editions, then install calibre. Calibre can use the DE keys and rip out the DRM. You can then put the ebook on your reader in whatever format you like (Calibre can convert them.)

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Mushroom

Re: please, nobody say GIMP

After discovering a small, light, coherent interfaced and above all, totally free tool called Paint.NET, The Gimp was ripped off my PC, beaten with a nailbar to make it release it's grip, got dragged out the back, given a good kicking for good measure then was summarily executed and dumped in a ditch.

I cannot express my loathing for Gimp, it's almost has intense as my loathing for that other freeware application, Photoshop*

*What does that keygen.exe do again?

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DRM is just plain anti-consumer.

Rights are well and good - essential, really. The problem is in the view that any measure that is there to MANAGE (enforce) those rights is acceptable - as if preventing 'piracy' is sufficient justification for anything*. Unfortunately for the consumer, these measures are almost inevitably invasive.

Any system that requires your computer to transmit information about what you are doing back to home base should be illegal.

I am not required to tell a record label every time I play a CD, nor am I required to tell a movie studio every time I watch their film or what parts I skip or when I pause, nor am I required to tell a publisher when and where I read a book or what chapters took the longest to read or if I skipped ahead to the end first.

These groups (publishers, record labels and movie studios) keep wringing their hands and crying that digital media should be treated just the same as 'traditional' media - claiming (for instance) that each and every upload/download of a movie/song is equivalent to the full retail price of the content. This has seen truly outrages damages being sought.

In claiming the equivalence of digital media to 'traditional' media, these groups of course only do so in those circumstances where it is advantageous to them. If it's equivalence they seek then let's start with removal of all 'phone home' DRM, because Virgin sure as hell doesn't know that I have listened to Mezzanine a hundred or so times or that I always skip track 6 on Heligoland. Nor does Universal know that it took me three goes to get through Mulholland Drive, or that, while I have watched every episode of 30 Rock, I haven't managed to get through even the first season of Suits.

They don't know that, while I snapped up Galactica, I passed on Caprica (though they can probably guess that . . .).

That's all a bit of a rant, as is my wont, and I am not sure my point was lucid or even relevant but I feel better anyway. That's El Reg - you're always there to listen . . .

* - Much like 'but terrorism!' is seen as justification for anything from our governments.

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Good thing I have no interest in reading e-books. This could've been a problem for me if I did.

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Good thing I only read things made available in HTML.

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What's this 'HTML' you speak of? Sounds heretical. TXT is where it is at, if you please.

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Boffin

Nah, I like a /leeeeeetle/ bit of formatting in my text.

Not so much that it inteferes with reflowing the text to whatever screen/resolution I choose to use, though!

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>Good thing I have no interest in reading e-books. This could've been a problem for me if I did

Oh thank heavens. I was about to ask whether anyone knew whether this would be a problem for Frank.

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Pff magnetised needle and a steady hand

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>Good thing I have no interest in reading e-books.

Good thing I only read DRM free epubs.

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Maybe incorrect assumption on my part..

but this implies as does the previous article that you download and read while connected the 'Net. Obviously there's a flle being kept somewhere on the PC... assuming it's a PC. Can we kill it? Overwrite with maybe a porn movie? Or random characters? I'm thinking fun and games instead of block and forget as they might change the server it goes to put that in a "software" update.

I don't use e-books. My books are paper and I'm waiting for someone to tell me I have to pay something everytime I re-read one.

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Re: Maybe incorrect assumption on my part..

@Mark 85

Quite possibly, although it could be stored in such a way as to be inside the program files themselves or not readily extractable save when it actually transmits the data.

Moreover, now that this is found out, perhaps it will be stored and transmitted in a more secure fashion but one that is much harder to tamper with or prevent.

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Re: Maybe incorrect assumption on my part..

No, the best way to fight this is given the failure to encrypt the phone home to randomly send millions of books read (to the point where they cannot differentiate which requests are real)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Maybe incorrect assumption on my part..

I generally block Adobe calling home at my firewall (just in case). But I've got this nasty impression that if it happens when you open a DRM pdf and the little darling won't be able to shake hands with daddy, it will promptly stick a middle (?) finger at you and close. So firewalling won't work. Well, no problem for me, I don't buy drm-locked files, but yes, it might be a bit irritable to those who do. Are there any current drm tools available (no links please!), or is just mentioning such a terrorist idea as drm-stripping in public, AD 2014 - "streng verboten"?

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Vic
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Re: Maybe incorrect assumption on my part..

to randomly send millions of books read

Hush now. There's noi need for that sort of thing.

I intend to tell them all about my recent history of reading the book "Adobe are a bunch of fuckwits" many hundreds of times. And I turn the pages a lot...

Vic.

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Facepalm

I'm not at all convinced one vague paragraph in the EULA covers that level of spying. It only it says "communicate with Adobe", it doesn't say anything about the content of that communication. Or even hint that it collects or reports data on your reading habits. I think a reasonable person would understand that paragraph to mean it only sends as much information as needed for one of the purposes mentioned. So reporting individual pages or reading time is totally unexpected behavior except in the (highly unlikely) event the particular book you're reading had a license where that mattered. And it shouldn't report anything at all on DRM-free eBooks.

And that's without getting into the allegations that it sends data on books you're not even reading with it or fact that sending it unencrypted is inexcusable. You'd think even from an evil corporate perspective they'd want this encrypted in transit.

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Just when you thought avoiding "cloud" was enough

Adobe: "We're very sorry we were so sloppy that you could see what we were doing."

Is there any reason to trust proprietary software?

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Re: Just when you thought avoiding "cloud" was enough

@P.Lee

If you ask me (you kinda did . . .) there's no reason to trust any company that stands to gain more by treading on your rights and privacy than they stand lose by you finding out.

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Watching the Watchers

Just a random idea off the top of my head... it would be sweet to have a modular, updateable firewall system, that I could put on my router at home or work, which would intercept these "phones home". It would send me, the owner of that information and the tattling device it came from, an email with a full report. Perhaps with some anonymizing function that tells the publisher "Just reading page 129 of War and Peace again! Send OK certificate so device doesn't lock!"

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Trollface

"Just reading page 129 of the EULA again."

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"Your privates are very important to us"

What about MY RIGHTS? Digital rights management for me means I never use this product. Adobe is evil like Google.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Your privates are very important to us"

as a non-owner, your rights are... limited.

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Re: "Your privates are very important to us"

@Tree

Rights, yes, but I if my privates are important to them then that really is the bigger issue, I feel.

Certainly much harder for them to justify.

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I hope this doesn't hurt sales of my upcoming e-book

The plan was to distribute exclusively through the Adobe ecosystem, but now I'm not so sure. The title, by the way, is called "Fuck You Adobe, You Fucking Suck". Watch for it.

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All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Del Boy

@J__M__M; "The title, by the way, is called "Fuck You Adobe, You Fucking Suck"."

Would I be correct in assuming that this magnum opus consists of nothing but the book title itself, repeated over and over, and over again, across the book's entire 700-page length, in a variety of increasingly-psychotic layouts?

I'd like to see the bit where Shelly Duvall comes across your neatly-typed manuscript.

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Re: All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Del Boy

@Michael Strorm

Incidentally, I read somewhere that Kubrik had Duvall do take after take until she was mentally strung-out and exhausted. He also made his secretary type ALL the pages of that manuscript - day after day, by hand. (No photocopying.)

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FAIL

Interesting...

To be charged on the basis of the time spent reading a book.

That's an interesting one. A tax on slow readers.

This is REALLY going to promote the electronic versions of the "Early Learners" series!!!

Epic fail, and no messing. Obviously the twit responsible for this bull shit should be taken out and shot. - (this is my personal, humble opinion and the author accepts no liability for twits that ARE actually taken out and shot.)

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