Adobe – better known for its creative software products – also has strong links with law-enforcement agencies, it has emerged.

There's even more law enforcement inside Adobe's products, it seems. Associated Press reports that Photoshop CS has software embedded within it to prevent any attempts to copy currency – software added at the request of government and the international banks.

"The currency anti-counterfeit software was created by the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group, a consortium of 27 central banks in the United States, Japan and various European nations," the report states.

Adobe said the software would have: "A minimal impact on honest customers." It generates a warning message when anybody tries to copy currency. Similar protection is built-in to graphics imaging software from Ulead Systems.

The news has generated mass response, with Adobe's creative customers complaining about censorship, voicing their concerns that the move opens the doors to future restrictions on the use of other sorts of images, such as copyrighted or adult material.

"If Andy Warhol had used Photoshop in the future, would he have been able to create the famous Campbell's soup images?" asked Macworld reader, Nick Spence. "What restrictions on use will come next?" he asked.

History mystery

Security expert Gene Spafford of Purdue University told Wired that Adobe should have been up-front in notifying customers of the anti-counterfeiting measures. Spafford asks how closely Adobe was able to examine the self-censoring software.

"If I were the paranoid-conspiracy type, I would speculate that since it isn’t Adobe's software, what else is it doing?" he said.

The company's flagship Photoshop CS application offers another feature – History Tracking. When enabled, this feature will track every operation run on an image within the application.

In an exclusive interview with Macworld UK (February 2004 issue, available January 16), Adobe's senior creative director of special projects Russell Preston Brown explained that the History Tracking feature was inspired by the needs of law enforcement agencies, who wanted to record everything done to an image to protect it as evidence.

"I was blind to the amount being done in Photoshop for police work. Because I'm only ever talking with creatives, all these other hidden worlds working with Photoshop amaze me," he said.