Is your printer spying on you?
The Inquirer | October 19 2005
Secret print code lets US secret service keep tabs
RESEARCHERS hired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) say they were able to break a code hidden in tiny tracking dots that some colour laser printers secrete in every document they print.
The U.S. Secret Service admits it struck a deal with some laser printer manufacturers to add tracking information to the printed matter. The spooks say it's a means of identifying counterfeiters. The EEF team analysed the little yellow dots on the output from a range of printers and managed to break the code for Xerox DocuColor printers. "We found that the dots encode the date and time your document was printed, as well as the serial number of the printer," said EFF Staff Technologist Seth David Schoen.
"We believe that other models from other manufacturers include the same personally identifiable information in their tracking dots," he added.
Xerox claimed only the Secret Service had the ability to read the code, while the Secret Service says it only uses the information for criminal counterfeit investigations.
"What other deals have been or are being made to ensure that our technology rats on us?" wonders EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien
Last modified October 19, 2005