Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

And here we go again with those dead languages, right? Not exactly. The Latinism is known by many outside the so-called clerisy. In short, it means “who watches the watchmen.” Traditionally it was thought to be from Juvenal and his Satires but now even that is called into question as being a later addition. Whoever said it, it needed to be said. It strikes at one of our more striking fears: who is guarding the guards?

Most will roll it out to gain political points, but our concern for now is … eBooks. Yes, that’s right, eBooks. It should come as no surprise–but it probably will–that while you read certain eBooks, they are reading you. Amazon has been spying on you for years, as has Facebook and other social media. Now it comes about that Adobe eBook editions is sending back your reading habits to Adobe Editions. The newest Adobe, Digital Edition 4, is the culprit, and it sends a considerable amount of data back on you to Adobe Editions.

But wait, there’s more.

While this little app is there, it also collects data about all your eBook reading habits–what you read, what you opened, in what order you read the books, as well as any other eBooks on your computer. Adobe responded to the American Librarian Association’s charge of an “egregious data breach” by telling ALA that is would repsond at a later time. In other words, we’ll get back to you on that.

Ah, the Internet!

Earlier I said that this shouldn’t surprise, but it will. It should not surprise because everyone associated with the Internet–with the possible exception of its creator, Sir Berners-Lee (No, not Al Gore), brooks no protection of your privacy. In 1999, Sun Microsystems chief Scott McNealy proclaimed, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” Just four years ago, in 2010, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, reminded us that the “age of privacy is over.” It really should come as no surprise. All social media depend upon your privacy being, well, public. You simply cannot be on the Web and remain a private individual.

What should astonish us is that we flail ourselves like celibate monks when the government imposes some small intrusions for our safety and well-being. We’ve made a saint out of Edward Snowden, and we’ve canonized the late and tragic Aaron Swartz. But we sit idly by and let social media make a mockery of our desire to lead private lives, desperate or not.

Information wants to be free, or so we’re told. Apparently it also wants to be shared, at the mere expense of your privacy.

It’s a brave, new world, after all.

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