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Lawsuit Claims Adobe Sold Personal Customer Data
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Adobe has had a mixed year in 2023, with both successes and challenges. One success was the launch of the Firefly 2 engine. However, they have also faced legal issues, an investigation by the FTC, and the unfortunate passing of a co-founder.

The latest challenge for Adobe comes in the form of a lawsuit filed by the Dutch Data Protection Foundation (SDBN). The SDBN claims that Adobe has sold the private customer data of approximately 7 million Dutch users.

With a population of about 17.5 million people in the Netherlands, the SDBN alleges that nearly half of the population has been illegally tracked by Adobe. Furthermore, they claim that Adobe has also sold this data to multiple third parties.

According to the SDBN, Adobe collects data about Dutch internet users using different technologies, such as cookies and embedded code in various popular apps and websites. Surprisingly, these websites are not owned by Adobe, with even the Dutch Tax Authority implicated in collecting this data.

The SDBN specifically points to Adobe’s Audience Manager platform, which is a part of their Adobe Experience Cloud marketed as a tool for creating internet user profiles.

Although Adobe is primarily known for its design software, it appears that they are also involved in the digital personal data market, tracking online activities.

The SDBN claims that Adobe places tracking cookies on popular Dutch websites. Users unknowingly activate these cookies when they visit these sites and click on the “Accept All” button without much thought. However, the SDBN alleges that Adobe does this even without obtaining proper consent from users.

They state that Adobe collects data on almost every Dutch internet user, whether or not they have ever used Adobe’s products. It is even claimed that Adobe creates tracking cookies even before users have a chance to accept or decline them.

An essential aspect of Adobe’s technology involves Software Development Kits (SDKs), which developers can use in their apps. According to the SDBN, these SDKs automatically track the actions of users who run the apps incorporating them.
This extensive tracking is enabled across tens of thousands of websites and apps, including popular names regularly visited by Dutch users like TUI, beterhoren.nl, Douglas, and apps like Marktplaats, Buienradar, and Bol.com.

The SDBN’s article further states that after collecting this data, Adobe utilizes it to create detailed profiles of individuals. These profiles are then sold to commercial entities.

If the allegations are true, such actions by Adobe would be in violation of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), as pointed out by the SDBN. Consequently, the SDBN has decided to take Adobe to court and demand that they cease their illegal data collection on Dutch citizens and delete any existing data they possess.

Additionally, the SDBN expects Adobe to compensate Dutch internet users, registered with them, for the profits earned from the sale of illegally obtained user data. The SDBN estimates that at least seven million Dutch users have been impacted by these actions.

However, the outcome of the lawsuit is not expected to be determined soon, possibly not until 2027 at the earliest. Of course, this timeline could change if Adobe intervenes in the proceedings.

To be eligible for potential compensation, individuals can freely register with the SDBN.

In response to these allegations, Adobe has denied the claims made by the SDBN, citing their role as a data processor rather than a data controller. According to Adobe, they merely provide services to their Experience Cloud customers and enable these customers to make decisions regarding data collection, cookie deployment, and consent management on their own websites.

It is challenging to assess the validity of the claims made by the SDBN against Adobe, as well as their previous lawsuits against Twitter/X and Amazon. However, it does appear that the SDBN is pursuing multiple legal actions, hoping to find success in at least one of them.

While it is uncertain whether the SDBN’s claims hold weight, it wouldn’t be surprising if there is some truth behind at least one or more of their lawsuits.

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