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I have to write up an entire project in LaTeX and overleaf makes it easy. Is it safe to do so or will programs such as turnitin pick up the document written in overleaf?

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  • Welcome to TeX.SE. No one forces you to use Overleaf, not everything must be stored in the cloud. Just keep it on your personal computer and it should be reasonably safe.
    – user31729
    Jul 31, 2017 at 21:03
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    I think this is a question for Overleaf, and it seems to be answered affirmatively here: Are my Overleaf documents private?
    – Alan Munn
    Jul 31, 2017 at 21:06
  • And turnitin, potentially. Technically, I think your document is on the public net. It is just that the URL needed to access it is pretty obscure. When you share the document, you give them that URL, but I think the URL is there even if you don't share. That doesn't mean turnitin can or will trawl it, though. However, I wouldn't trust any major project solely to the cloud and OverLeaf is also very slow, in my experience. Certainly, you should keep backups of anything on OverLeaf and have a Plan B for compilation.
    – cfr
    Jul 31, 2017 at 22:19
  • @AlanMunn The thing is, turnitin wouldn't be trying to guess the URL. It would just aggregate everything it captures from whatever range of URLS etc. it trawls. Since the URL is there regardless, there seems no technical reason why it couldn't be scooped up by a crawler.
    – cfr
    Jul 31, 2017 at 22:21
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    @cfr Technically, yes, But this depends on two things: turnitin's policy on which domains it crawls or at least which crawled domains it discards (we don't know I guess) and Overleaf's policy on crawling. In general public links are not found by crawlers unless the link is published publicly. If you're really worried you can pay for a Pro account on Overleaf and then you can grant explicit sharing access via an email address.
    – Alan Munn
    Aug 1, 2017 at 1:49

2 Answers 2

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Overleaf co-founder here.

All of your projects on Overleaf are private by default. Each document has a unique link, and only people with whom you've shared the link can read and edit the document.

We don't share your projects with turnitin (or, for the avoidance of doubt, other third parties). You can find out more about our privacy policy here: https://www.overleaf.com/legal#Privacy

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  • Could you enable some end-to-end encryption? Similar to protonmail? Because we would not like you to be able to read the documents we compose on your platform.
    – Denis
    Dec 29, 2019 at 9:02
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Obviously Overleaf can read your texts. So as long as »private« means, nobody else but you has access, it is not private.

Besides this, Overleaf declares in the privacy statement:

Business Transfers. If we are involved in a merger, acquisition, or sale of all or a portion of our assets, your information may be transferred as part of that transaction, but we will notify you (for example, via email and/or a prominent notice on our website) of any change in control or use of your Personal Information or Files, or if either become subject to a different Privacy Policy. We will also notify you of choices you may have regarding the information.

And to my understanding, Overleaf may at any time change the privacy statement.

We can not foresee the future. I wish all the best to Overleaf and I have no reason to have any doubts about the company, but: We have seen, that even from secret services collected, large trove of data have been published without consent.

So my advice: Never put private data into a cloud. And that is an advice without any specific regard to Overleaf, which may provide a wonderfull service for TeXies.

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