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Adobe Bemused By Spying Claims

App tracking may be less evil than believed

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The discovery that some Adobe products phone home to analytics firm Omniture brought out the tinfoil hat crowd, and a raised eyebrow from Adobe’s John Nack.

Nack, senior product manager for Adobe Photoshop, felt moved enough by the sturm und drang surrounding reports of his company’s products allegedly spying on Adobe customers to respond to the blogosphere drama.

Later, Nack blogged about the situation that Uneasy Silence noticed when Adobe CS3 pinged what looked like a non-routable IP address: 192.168.112.2O7.net:

According to Doug Miller from the Adobe.com team, “Omniture is Adobe’s web analytic vendor for Adobe.com. There are only 3 places we track things via Omniture anywhere in or around our products.”:

•  The welcome screens (these things) in some Adobe apps include a Flash SWF file that loads current news, special offers, etc. These requests hit Adobe.com servers and are logged, like regular browser-based traffic, by Omniture.

•  Adobe Bridge embeds both the Opera browser and the Flash Player, both of which can be used to load Adobe-hosted content. These requests are also logged.

•  Adobe apps can call various online resources (online help, user forums, etc.), and those requests are logged.

“This, as far as I’ve been able to discover, is the extent of the nefarious ‘spying’,” said Nack.

He also chided Valleywag, CenterNetworks, and Daring Fireball for throwing around “wild assertions” about the traffic to Omniture, especially with Adobe staff mostly off for the brief holiday. However, Nack did have a sense of humor about this, asking why no one had done a crude Photoshop to besmirch the company, too.

We’ll give Nack credit for responding to this on a slow day, but Adobe and Omniture also deserve a ding about the ear for the disguised IP address they use to connect to 2o7.net. There’s no way someone at Omniture came up with that clever little subdomain for any reason other that to try and deceive an admin watching network traffic into thinking it was an internal route.

Adobe Bemused By Spying Claims
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  • http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack John Nack

    Hey David–

    Thanks for seeing the humor, or at least my attempts at it. (And chalk one up for someone who actually spells “sturm und drang” correctly. ;-P).

    I have a masochistic streak, spending the holidays wading into controversies that aren’t my own (last year the CS3 icons; this year, Omniture). Having said that, I do have a beef with bloggers and online journalists not taking the time to do their homework, instead using scary headlines to draw clicks. I felt compelled to say so, and to pass along what info I was able to gather yesterday. Hopefully I’ll be able to get more useful details when people return to the office next week.

    Best,
    J.

  • mike ashworth

    I’d also imagine that as Adobe have now cut a deal with Yahoo to provide adverts in the left hand pane of the adobe reader app which are based on the particular pdf being viewed that this will also need such a server to be pinged.

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