Federal Reserve fights digital counterfeiters

The Federal Reserve has helped an international bank group develop and release software code to deter the digital counterfeiting of paper currency.

The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group, made up of the Federal Reserve banks and the central banks of the other G-10 nations, made the code available to the digital-imaging industry free of charge, Fed spokeswoman Susan Stawick said.

Because of confidentiality agreements, Stawick declined to say how many vendors are using the embedded technology, but she said the Fed did approach the industry for help in making paper money harder to copy.

Media reports this week said the latest version of Adobe Photoshop uses the code to block the opening of currency image files.

The counterfeit deterrence system made its debut in Adobe Photoshop CS last October, said Russell Brady, a spokesman for Adobe Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif.

'Adobe's not the first software company to implement this in their products,' Brady said. Other imaging applications use the technology, as do many digital color copiers, he said.

Although the banking group asked Adobe not to publicize the inclusion of the deterrence code, the company said the publicity will spur an update of its Photoshop informational Web pages to explain the reasoning behind the anticounterfeiting feature. The Web pages will direct customers to www.rulesforuse.org, a portal describing reproduction laws for the world's major currencies.

A Federal Reserve statement said, 'To address the increasing use of personal computers, digital imaging equipment and software for illicit purposes, the Federal Reserve is working with a consortium of central banks that has developed a system to deter use of this technology in counterfeiting bank notes. This group is soliciting the support of the digital imaging and computer industry and cooperating with equipment manufacturers and software developers to facilitate adoption.'

The Fed allocated $2.9 million in fiscal 2003 for counterfeiting deterrence research, according to a budget document on the board's Web site.

Link to U.S. Treasury's "Know Your Money" page

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