The Kwiasatz haderach (i_muad_dib) wrote in amygdala_inc,
The Kwiasatz haderach

Is Your Printer Spying On You?

Donna Wentworth says: "Could your color laser printer be automatically including a secret fingerprint in every page so that what you print could be used to trace the document back to you?

"While it sounds like something from an episode of "Alias," the scenario isn't fictional. "

In an effort to identify counterfeiters, the US government has succeeded in persuading some color laser printer manufacturers to encode each page with identifying information. That means that without your knowledge or consent, an act you assume is private could become public. A communication tool you're using in everyday life could become a tool for government surveillance. And what's worse, there are no laws to prevent abuse. ... The ACLU recently issued a report revealing that the FBI has amassed more than 1,100 pages of documents on the organization since 2001, as well as documents concerning other non-violent groups, including Greenpeace and United for Peace and Justice. In the current political climate, it's not hard to imagine the government using the ability to determine who may have printed what document for purposes other than identifying counterfeiters. Your freedom to speak anonymously is in danger. Yet there are no laws to stop the Secret Service -- or for that matter, any other governmental agency or private company -- from using printer codes to secretly trace the origin of non-currency documents. We're unaware of any printer manufacturer that has a privacy policy that would protect you, and no law regulates what people can do with the information once it's turned over. And that doesn't even reach the issue of how such a privacy-invasive tool could be developed and implemented in printers without the public becoming aware of it in the first place.

"EFF is investigating further, but we need more data before we can do anything more to protect your privacy. We're asking you to help out by printing and sending us test sheets from your printer and/or your local print shop."
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