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IBNeko's Journal-Nyo~!
Stalking. Via Printer. o.O


It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn't. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government.

Last year, an article in PC World magazine pointed out that printouts from many color laser printers contained yellow dots scattered across the page, viewable only with a special kind of flashlight. The article quoted a senior researcher at Xerox Corp. as saying the dots contain information useful to law-enforcement authorities, a secret digital "license tag" for tracking down criminals....


...With the Xerox printers, the information appears as a pattern of yellow dots, each only a millimeter wide and visible only with a magnifying glass and a blue light.

The EFF said it has identified similar coding on pages printed from nearly every major printer manufacturer, including Hewlett-Packard Co., though its team has so far cracked the codes for only one type of Xerox printer.

The U.S. Secret Service acknowledged yesterday that the markings, which are not visible to the human eye, are there, but it played down the use for invading privacy.

"It's strictly a countermeasure to prevent illegal activity specific to counterfeiting," agency spokesman Eric Zahren said. "It's to protect our currency and to protect people's hard-earned money."...

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p_trekkie From: p_trekkie Date: October 19th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a similar reaction when I read the article yesterday on slashdot.... but note, it's only color laserjets, which most of us don't use....
ibneko From: ibneko Date: October 19th, 2005 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm, true. I guess most counterfeiters don't use inkjet printers... XP
jaiwithani From: jaiwithani Date: October 19th, 2005 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
One more reason to always use public (i.e. library) printers.

The more pressing question is exactly what information is stored in the "index" these companies use. Is there enough information to track the printer back to the end-user? I'd think that the marks would correspond to a serial code, which requires ifnromation that may or may not be controlled by the retailer/seller to be useful in tracking down an individual. So the government needs at least two third-parties to hand over customer data, which they might or might not be able to, depending on the tenacity of their record-keeping.

Currency? WTF? Counterfieters don't use HP laserjets...

I'll add this to my list of reasons to prefer digital documents to dead-tree copies. Digital information can at least be fully inspected, and even if media is marked, it's usually trivial to copy it to a "clean" medium.
tinkleneko From: tinkleneko Date: October 20th, 2005 12:08 am (UTC) (Link)
... O.o wt..f.....
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