mailing list archives
Re: Government Uses Color Laser Printers to Track Documents.
From: Chris Umphress <umphress () gmail com>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2004 17:09:38 -0800
Next time you make a printout from your color laser printer,
shine an LED flashlight beam on it and examine it closely
with a magnifying glass. You might be able to see the small,
scattered yellow dots printed there that could be used to
trace the document back to you.
So they're using my yellow toner and expecting me to be happy about
it? Is it tax deductable? ;)
Lorelei Pagano, a counterfeiting specialist with the U.S.
Secret Service, stresses that the government uses the
embedded serial numbers only when alerted to a forgery. "The
only time any information is gained from these documents is
purely in [the case of] a criminal act," she says.
This is like the semi-recent OnStar issue, right?
John Morris, a lawyer for The Center for Democracy and
Technology , says, "That type of assurance doesn't really
assure me at all, unless there's some type of statute." He
adds, "At a bare minimum, there needs to be a notice to
Absolutely. A "you're being tracked, have a good day" would be nice.
Crean describes the device as a chip located "way in the
machine, right near the laser" that embeds the dots when the
document "is about 20 billionths of a second" from printing.
"Standard mischief won't get you around it," Crean adds.
I have to wonder how long it will take modding sites to pick this up.
Neither Crean nor Pagano has an estimate of how many laser
printers, copiers, and multifunction devices track
documents, but they say that the practice is commonplace
among major printer companies.
This sounds a lot like "But everyone does it!" That never worked for me.
Unlike ink jet printers, laser printers, fax machines, and
copiers fire a laser through a mirror and series of lenses
to embed the document or image on a page. Such devices range
from a little over $100 to more than $1000, and are designed
for both home and office.
Black-only laser printers are down as low as $100. Color is still
$500+, just clearifying.
Crean says Xerox pioneered this technology about 20 years
ago, to assuage fears that their color copiers could easily
be used to counterfeit bills.
It can be done with inkjet printers now.
Anyhow, my $0.02. I probably won't be buying a new (or old) color
laser printer in the near future.
Chris Umphress <http://daga.dyndns.org/>
Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.