By a commentator for Tjen Folket Media.
On October 9, Adobe reported that they would cancel all subscriptions in Venezuela, and the country’s citizens have been denied access to programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign.
The background for this decision is the executive order passed in August, which forbids transactions and services between US and Venezuelan companies.
Adobe’s customers in the country have until October 29 to download content stored on the cloud. After this date, access to both software and media will be blocked.
Why is this problematic?
Adobe delivers its programs in a package that has become the de facto industry standard within media production. When programs like Photoshop and Indesign become less accessible, it affects not only the country’s leadership, but also freelancers and those who actively work against Maduro. If Adobe blocks access to all IP addresses in the country, even journalists who work to report internationally from within Venezuela will be affected.
Since 2013, the only legal (and practical) way to get Adobe software has been through a cloud-based subscription. For a given monthly or annual fee, customers can get access, but this means that the software must be able to get access to the internet to verify the status of the subscription. This means that all the customers in an entire country can lose access based entirely on an Executive Order.
In a world that is increasingly dependent on the use of technology, and where large shares of this technology is developed by the US, this is a troubling tendency.
Opportunities to avoid the block
Without knowing precisely how Adobe plans to enforce its cancellation, there will most likely be possibilities to avoid the block. One can, for instance, register an account using an address in another country and use VPN services to hide one’s IP address and pay with an anonymous money card. Pirated copies of the software are also available, but this will often come with viruses and trojans.
Nonetheless, such a boycott of an entire country will not contribute to the opposition to President Maduro. It may even work against it. In this way, it might be said that the US is shooting itself in the foot.