Adobe Illustrator

We received this message in the inbox the other day:

Does Adobe Illustrator record IP addresses as you are building a document?

Now, in order to answer this fairly, we need to back up. Adobe Illustrator is one of a number of programs that can be used to manipulate images. It's closely related to Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is targeted at the manipulation of things like photographs, whereas Illustrator is better for drawing things like corporate logos or cartoons.

As to the question of whether either one of these programs records IP addresses as the files are being created or modified, the short answer is: No, I don't think so. At least, we have no evidence of them doing so.

But that short answer can be misleading, if the real question isn't "Is this recording my IP address", but really "Is it recording information about the computer that is either creating or editing the file?" If you're really asking the second question, then the answer is "Yes, it certainly is."

Save any picture you like off the Internet. For instance, let's take the first thing that showed up on Flickr when I searched for the word "Radio": A photograph of someone's very elaborate radio room. Note that on the right-hand side of the screen, Flickr says "This photo was taken on January 17, 2010 using a Canon EOS 50D." That information comes from the "metadata" stored along with the image. Metadata is the information about the picture that's stored inside the file data about the picture itself. If, for instance, you were to download the original version of the photograph in that link, you could then (using Windows) right-click on the file and select "Properties".

What you'll see depends upon which version of Windows you're using. Using Windows Vista, you'll have a choice of tabs, one of which is named "Details". Clicking on that tab brings up a list of details about the photo. Again, each computer is configured differently, but among the many pieces of information that may be stored include the name of the author, the title of the picture, the photo's dimensions and resolution, the time and date when it was taken, the type of camera used, details of the photo's setup (including factors like ISO speed and F-stop). All of this extra information is called metadata. It's also stored along with many other files you routinely use and create, including files in spreadsheets and word processors, PDF files, MP3 recordings, and virtually everything else. And, depending upon how your computer is configured, every such file you create may be recording details about your computer that can be retrieved easily by anyone who gets a copy of that file.

So: Is Adobe Illustrator recording your IP address? Not likely. But is your computer routinely storing information about you and your files inside the metadata within those files? You bet.

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This page contains a single entry by Brian Gongol published on May 5, 2011 6:43 PM.

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