Adobe made a small change to its terms and conditions and that made its users very, very unhappy — scrutinizing data to find illegal content is a risky move

Angry woman using a laptop
(Image credit: Butsaya / Shutterstock)

Adobe recently updated its terms of use, and although companies do this all the time, these new changes have sparked a significant amount of discord and discussion among users.

The updated terms of use give Adobe access to any form of media uploaded to its Creative Cloud and Document Cloud services, a change which immediately sparked a privacy backlash and led to many users calling for a boycott. So annoyed were paying customers that Adobe was forced to issue a statement clarifying what the updated terms mean, and what they cover.

The changes Adobe made include switching the wording from “we will only access, view or listen to your content in limited ways” to “we may access, view or listen to your content” and the addition of “through both automated and manual methods”. In the Content section, Adobe made changes to how it would scan user data, adding the manual mention.

Manual (human) review

In its explanation of the terms changes, Adobe said, “To be clear, Adobe requires a limited license to access content solely for the purpose of operating or improving the services and software and to enforce our terms and comply with law, such as to protect against abusive content.”

The company further explained that Adobe applications and services may access content to perform the role they are designed for, and to apply cloud-based effects and filters. It then said, “For content processed or stored on Adobe servers, Adobe may use technologies and other processes, including escalation for manual (human) review, to screen for certain types of illegal content (such as child sexual abuse material), or other abusive content or behavior (for example, patterns of activity that indicate spam or phishing).”

While the intentions behind these changes might be to enhance service quality and ensure compliance with legal standards, permitting the company to have such broad access to personal and potentially sensitive content clearly feels intrusive to many users. The shift from an explicit limitation to a more open-ended permission for content access could be seen as a step backward in terms of user control and data protection and raises concerns about privacy and user trust, which Adobe’s statement doesn’t fully address.

On the plus side, Adobe did take the opportunity to clarify it won’t be using customer content to train its Firefly Gen AI models and that it would never assume ownership of a customer's work.

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Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams is a freelancer writing news for TechRadar Pro. He has been writing about computers, technology, and the web for 30 years. In that time he wrote for most of the UK’s PC magazines, and launched, edited and published a number of them too.