Adobe Systems acknowledged Friday it quietly added technology to the world’s best-known graphics software at the request of government regulators and international bankers to prevent consumers from making copies of the world’s major currencies.
The unusual concession has angered scores of customers.
Adobe, the world’s leading vendor for graphics software, said the secretive technology “would have minimal impact on honest customers.” It generates a warning message when someone tries to make digital copies of some currencies.
The U.S. Federal Reserve and other organizations that worked on the technology said they could not disclose how it works and would not name which other software companies include it in their products. They cited concerns that counterfeiters would try to defeat it.
[...] Angry customers have flooded Adobe’s Internet message boards with complaints about censorship and concerns over future restrictions on other types of images, such as copyrighted or adult material.
“I don’t believe this,” said Stephen M. Burns, president of the Photoshop users group in San Diego. “This shocks me. Artists don’t like to be limited in what they can do with their tools. Let the U.S. government or whoever is involved deal with this, but don’t take the powers of the government and place them into a commercial software package.”
[...] Some policy experts were divided on the technology. Bruce Schneier, an expert on security and privacy, praised the anti-counterfeit technology.
Another security expert, Gene Spafford of Purdue University, said Adobe should have notified its customers prominently. He wondered how closely Adobe was permitted to study the technology’s inner workings to ensure it was stable and performed as advertised.
“If I were the paranoid-conspiracy type, I would speculate that since it’s not Adobe’s software, what else is it doing?” Spafford said.
See this earlier entry: From Slashdot; and this article from Canada.com: Adobe admits using technology to block attempts at counterfeiting currency