Warning Added to Library Borrowed Kindle Ebooks

Screen shot of dialog warning borrowers that Amazon has access to your check out record.
Kindle Warning
As previously noted, you can borrows ebooks from the library for the Kindle reader or Kindle apps. You can even cleverly extend the due date on a borrowed Kindle ebook. So it’s about time that Amazon and Overdrive warned borrowers that Amazon has access to your library record. They’ve added a warning dialog. I say they because while I think it’s Overdrive, it could be the local library; I honestly can’t tell, and both parties have declined to respond to inquiries.

It’s not clear, really, in terms of what they have access to; mostly it just states you’re leaving the library’s site and going to an unnamed third-party site that does not share the library’s privacy policy.

I wish they’d tell people up front that Amazon gets your email, the title and associated metatdata of the book you are borrowing, and the due date, and that Amazon will email you to tell you that the book is due in X days (usually 2) and offer to sell you a copy. I also wish that they required you to opt-in, or at least offer an opt-out.

FaceBook and Privacy

There’s a lot to like about social network services and sites, at least when they let you choose what you want to share, and who you want to share it with. FaceBook has been steadily degrading their Privacy policies to allow them to re-use posted content (for free, naturally) pretty much how ever FaceBook wants. They’ve consistently messed with their UI to make it difficult to understand or to change your privacy settings. And they’re grabbing user content and re-posting to Community pages that FaceBook controls (presumably for the purposes of ad targetting).

There’s bookmarklet on the page linked  below (drag the bookmarklet to your Web browser toolbar then log in to Facebook) that checks to see what kind of information FaceBook can/is sharing about you, and helps you tweak your FaceBook privacy settings, if you want.

This site has a bookmarklet that lets you check your Privacy settings, an otherwise arcane is complex process with a UI that often requires you to click five items before arriving at a setting to change.

The bookmarklet is a simple javascript; it is harmless, and you can safely use and delete it.

Turnitin Sued

My friend Dawno alerted me to this story about anti-plagiarism service Turnitin.com being sued for copyright violation by four students. Turnitin is a service contracted by universities and schools. Faculty submit student papers for analysis by Turnitin which compares the text to papers stored in an internal database and to text stored on the Web; Turnitin uses an algorithm based-text-string analysis of the sort an experienced teacher engages in when we use our own skills and Google to spot plagiarism. Turnitin looks for strings that match within a few characters, and then provides a “report” that color codes text and and offers statistics and URLs.

I’ve had problem with the concepts behind Turnitin right from the start; I blogged about my concerns regarding violating student’s rights some time ago. Now, students are suing Turnitin for copyright violation because their papers are databased and used for subsequent comparisons without their permission; I suspect we’ll see a privacy violation, particularly in the context of FERPA soon.