"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."
This was on Slashdot last week but reports seemed inconclusive about whether it was true. But now Adobe has admitted it, so I guess so!
Rumor has it that the trick is that there is some particular repeating constellation of dots that trigger the new "money crash" feature.
So the interesting and fucked up details here are,
Adobe grabbed its ankles based on covert pressure from some unknown government agency: with what authority? And what kind of pressure was applied to make Adobe think it was worth investing engineering effort (equals money) into doing this? It's not an easy "feature" to add!
This means that it's possible to construct a JPEG that Photoshop won't open. I don't know if that's been done yet, but Adobe has just added that feature! So presumably if you insert the right magic constellation of dots in your photo, you can know that nobody will be able to edit it with Photoshop: this could turn into a kind of halfassed general-purpose copy protection. (Which will work great until someone finds out the four-byte patch to make to Photoshop to turn off the new "feature", 80s-video-game-crack style.)
I'm curious to know exactly what Photoshop is looking for: presumably there's a "quick check" followed by a "slow check." I wonder how many false positives it's likely to encounter.
Update, Jan 14: Wired has another article about this that includes the detail, "The inner workings of the counterfeit deterrence system are so secret that not even Adobe is privy to them. The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group provides the software as a black box without revealing its precise inner workings." Nice!