Saturday, February 18, 2012

Secret Code in Color Printers Lets Government Track You

Source: Slashdot

Slashdot reader Dave Minsky writes, "The U.S. Secret Service responded to a FOIA request on Monday that reveals the names of the printer companies that cooperate with the government to identify and track potential counterfeiters. ... The pattern of dots is encodes identifiable information including printer model, and time and location where the document was printed."

According to the FOIA response, Canon, Brother, Casio, HP, Konica, Minolta, Mita, Ricoh, Sharp and Xerox all have printer models that encode information on documents they produce.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Tiny Dots Show Where and When You Made Your Print San Francisco -A research team led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recently broke the code behind tiny tracking dots that some color laser printers secretly hide in every document. The U.S. Secret Service admitted that the tracking information is part of a deal struck with selected color laser printer manufacturers, ostensibly to identify counterfeiters. However, the nature of the private information encoded in each document was not previously known.

"We've found that the dots from at least one line of printers 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.

The dots are yellow, less than one millimeter in diameter, and are typically repeated over each page of a document. In order to see the pattern, you need a blue light, a magnifying glass, or a microscope.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Electronic Frontier Foundation

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