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Tracking what you print

Secret printer ID codes may breach EU privacy laws | The Register

A little-noticed system that allows printed documents to be tracked by government agents...is baked in to many popular color laser printers and photocopiers, including those made by Brother, Cannon, Xerox and HP, according to this list compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It embeds almost invisible tracking dots onto documents that uniquely identify the machine that printed them.

The enables the tracking of currency counterfeiters, but the EFF has been warning for years there's nothing that prevents government spooks from using them for broader types of surveillance....According to the EFF, printer manufacturers added the technology at the direction of the US government, most likely the Secret Service.

And to think we used to point at the USSR's compulsory registration of typewriters as an indication of how unfree and bad it was.

Comments

It's true but it's also very old news.

I think it was originally introduced to try and stop people duplicating £20 notes on the early colour photocopiers.

There's a code made up of very pale yellow blobs that are almost invisible.

I had a document about ten years ago that helped you read what the blobs meant, but it was so many networks ago that I have no idea where it went to.

Incidentally, try copying a (US) banknote on a modern colour laser and you'll see they are now cleverer than just putting blobs on the copy. May not work with any other notes...

Hey, if you've done nothing wrong, then you've nothing to fear, right?

[/1984]

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