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Are Your Peripherals Monitoring You?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the linux-never-gets-the-cool-software dept.

Privacy 393

An anonymous reader writes " Engadget is reporting that 'Lexmark, makers of printers and scanners, has been caught monitoring users' printer, scanning, and ink cartridge usage.'" Newsgroup comp.periphs.printers readers noticed the software; the Engadget report says that "Lexmark say they're just tracking printer and cartridge usage, but the registration information and packets being sent say otherwise."

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393 comments

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really! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806265)

My webcam does it too

Not clear? (3, Interesting)

BoldAC (735721) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806266)

Not clear what they are monitoring?

What am I missing? Couldn't somebody just install the program and sniff the information out of the packets?

Gesh, this is slashdot...

Re:Not clear? (3, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806283)

Certainly. The problem is, capitalism is fleecing the privacy of people, and it's very sneaky of Lexmark to conduct business this way. It is not surprising for Lexmark to do this. They have been cornholing their customers over ink cartridges for years. As far as I'm concerned, if your still running windows connected to the internet, buying Lexmark gear, and reading this with IE, then you deserve everything you get.

Re:Not clear? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806315)

Lexmark corholing? Not possible! I am conrholio! I want TP for my windows!! But seriously, you are right. Windows and all the acoutrements that the average tom dick and harry have lying around continously probe their busy little noses into everything you do. plop a penguin in you windie network, raise the eth0 and scan away... learn how to filter though because there is too much flipping by..

Re:Not clear? (0, Offtopic)

zumbojo (615389) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806386)

Amen brother. If I only had mod points...

Re:Not clear? (5, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806325)

Lexmark's attempt to use DMCA to prevent thrid party cartridges sank in court a few weeks ago. They are bound to start looking for a different means to achieve the same goal as their printers are sold at dumping prices and they generate profit mostly from cartridges. In order to chose the next move they definitely need some reconnaissance data. Alternatively they are looking to move the grounds of enforcement on what the customer uses from suing competitors to sueing customers (what a novell idea...).

2. Lexmark AFAIK is one of the companies who are participating in the stupid law assistance program where software and hardware should detect common types of currency and refuse to copy or print it. Going from there to ratting on the ones who scan/print it is only one step.

Re:Not clear? (2, Funny)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806428)

participating in the stupid law assistance program

That's really only going to work on a counterfeiter dumb enough to have an Internet connection on his currency scan'n'print LAN.

The people they're most likely to catch are the kids that watch National Treasure [imdb.com] , and then start scanning $bills and loading the images into a pirated copy of PhotoShop to see if they can find the clues...

As every printer manufacturer... (3, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806432)

This is probably only the top of an iceberg. All printer manufacturers are trying by different means to keep up the incomes by secondary sales in some way. Some more intrusive than others.

Personally I dislike inkjet printers since they usually are causing a mess by spreading the ink everywhere, and the printouts are normally not water-resistant either! Another thing is that the ink cartridges tends to dry up and cause messy pritouts if any if you leave the printer unused for some months. Only way out is to buy a new cartridge.

Laser Printers are a little better, as long as you have a decent vacuum cleaner arond to catch any excess toner. At least they don't mind being offline for a year in decent conditions. (maybe you will have to shake down the toner in extreme cases)

In all, tracking printer use should only be acceptable if the user is notified beforehand, and that the data communicated is easy for anybody to check regarding it's content. The user must be able to disallow any usage tracking.

A legitime use of printer usage tracking that I see is actually to let the printer manufacturer find out the most common errors occured with a printer, and which colors that are most frequently used in order to optimize coming models on the market. But as noted beforehand, the user must have his/hers last say in this. Relate this to the error reporting that Microsoft offers for Windows XP. (Not that it actually catches ALL problems)

My 1/2 cent opinion...

Re:As every printer manufacturer... (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806454)

A legitime use of printer usage tracking ... which colors that are most frequently used in order to optimize coming models on the market


There are two much less intrusive ways to do this:
1) design the printer to use separate cartriges for each color, or
2) offer a used-cartridge trade-in discount and check how much ink is left of each color.

Re:Not clear? (2)

Kaemaril (266849) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806449)

uses from suing competitors to sueing customers (what a novell idea...).

Uh ... no. That's an SCO idea, not a Novell idea :)

Re:Not clear? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806462)

"...the stupid law assistance program where software and hardware should detect common types of currency and refuse to copy or print it."

Just why is this stupid? Counterfiting is illegal and undesirable. Please explain your opinion.

Are yet just, plain, mad? (2, Interesting)

steve_l (109732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806463)

I dont understand lexmark. They crossed the boundaries of the sensible with the DMCA suit, now they are up with this spyware print driver thing.

Are they in league with the MPAA or something? Or do they just want to get extra money from users.

The fact is, refill cartridges perform a valuable role: they keep the retail cartridges within bounds. If it wasnt for the refill biz, the vendors would be tempted to charge even more.

As for the spyware stuff -if this is in UK print drivers (as the zdnet UK article implies), then it could be illegal under our data protection laws. It certainly ought to be banned. All spyware should be illegal.

That is the nice thing about OSS -you can check the print drivers, and anyway, like linux.org or sf.net cares about your printing. Interestingly, spyware is very rare in the macos world too. There is something about windows that just encourages it. I think it is the fact that Ms effectively ship windows with spyware-to-MS preinstalled, then the home PC vendors join in, giving the green light to everyone else.

I despair.

Re:Are yet just, plain, mad? (1)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806489)

Oh, I understand Lexmark perfectly.

Most of their money comes from ink and toner. And just like a crack dealer on a street, they know that once they have you hooked (by buying one of their printers), like a junkie on a fix, you'll need to keep coming back to them for ink.

Remember folks. IMHO, Lexmark = crack dealer.

I will NEVER buy a Lexmark printer or any of their other products. Hopefully they go out of business.

One of the (odd?) things is that local Staples, Office Depot, and Costco stores don't seem to carry many Epson printers anymore. I assume it's because of some sort of licensing deal with the store. All they usually carry is Lexmark and HP crap, so I go directly to computer dealers to buy decent printers.

N.

Inkjet cartridges... (2, Insightful)

Krankheit (830769) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806340)

Lexmark obviously wants to track ink jet cartridge usage because that is where they get their most profit. They probably want to know when consumers start switching to a more viable printing technology so they can jump on the bandwagon.

God I hope not (3, Funny)

LooseChanj (17865) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806272)

I don't think anyone or anything could stand the sight of me before clothes or caffeine.

Re:God I hope not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806425)

Didn't you ask yourself where all those requests from .gov domains were coming from? Don't worry about that. The government already has some nice orange jump suits ready for you as soon as you switch off that camera. Go back to work!

Vote Jeb Bush in 2008! Four more years!

Please clarify (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806273)

First you tell us this:

Lexmark, makers of printers and scanners, has been caught monitoring users' printer, scanning, and ink cartridge usage."

Then you try to tell us this:

"Lexmark say they're just tracking printer and cartridge usage, but the registration information and packets being sent say otherwise."

So the evil Lexmark tells you that they are tracking printer and cartridge usage, which is what you tell us is what you found. Then you claim that the packets being sent tell you something different. Well, spill it! What did you find that Lexmark didn't say they are tracking? It seems that they told you what you'd expect to find if you monitored their packets.

I don't like the idea that some company is building drivers that call home. But it's not because I think my privacy is somehow invaded. I just don't like someone using up my bandwidth without my knowledge.

If I was really concerned with privacy, I doubt I'd be using a computer, much less connecting it to the Internet.

Re:Please clarify (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806337)

The actual initial post is even better. They call it a "Trojan Backdoor" which is stretching it for a program that calls home once a month.

Re:Please clarify (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806442)

Anything that calls home unasked and silently is a backdoor. Anyone working for a foreign agency is a spy and will be treated as one, no matter if he has blown up that power plant *yet* or whatever his orders were.

Spying is spying, no matter if it happens daily or monthly. And who are you to be sure they don't collect other info, send ascii-only copies of your printed documents, scan for keywords and worse. Calling home once a month is enough to report back every info you hold dear. Plain ASCII, zip compressed doesn't need more bandwidth.

But none of us has a problem with others monitoring what we say or do. I have nothing to hide. I like orange jump suits and cable ties. I like the president. I am a happy citizen and I will go back to work now.

Re:Please clarify (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806457)

If I was really concerned with privacy, I doubt I'd be using a computer, much less connecting it to the Internet.

Well I'm concerned with privacy, but I still want to use a computer and also connect to the internet. I don't necessarily disagree with your argument but you weaken it here.

Re:Please clarify (3, Informative)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806458)

The concern is that, if you fill out the printer registration card with name, address, phone number and serial number and if the spyware sends the printer serial number along with the other information, then they can tie cartridge usage to a particular name/address record, along with the IP it came from.

Which immediately suggests a course of action to "poison" the information pool - register as Darl McBride and start copying something illegal...

Lexmark sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806274)

I bought a Lexmark printer for about $20 after a rebate and it was a good printer. The trouble began when I had to buy new cartridges, I bought 3 in a row, and they were all empty, what the hell is up with that.

Re:Lexmark sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806286)

I had the exact same problem, I bought a Lexmark printer on sale, it was a steal. A few months later I needed to buy a new ink cartridge and it was empty, I brought it back and got another one, it was empty as well. I tried to return that one but Best Buy refused to take it back because they thought I was just returning cartridges when I was finished with them. Bunch of shit if you ask me.

Re:Lexmark sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806464)

Anyone who is reading Slashdot and _keeps_ buying Lexmark products deserves every shafting he can get.

Sorry for being rude, but WE TOLD YOU

No complaining about Lexmark's business practices, Internet Explorer insecurities and anti-democratic measures by anyone from the Bush family. Guess what - we told you, too.

Re:Lexmark sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806293)

I had the same problem with HP cartridges. I changed my vendor and it resolved the issue.

Re:Lexmark sucks (4, Funny)

dattaway (3088) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806303)

The trouble began when I had to buy new cartridges, I bought 3 in a row, and they were all empty, what the hell is up with that.

You are an engineer for [evil printer company] and are told to increase profits 50%. So you increase i=20 in the cartrige purge program.

Re:Lexmark sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806475)

May I propose an economical solution [rapidrefillink.com] to your problem. I cite these people just as an example, but you can find similar suppliers everywhere. 'Tis better paying $6.00 for a refilled cartridge than $16.00 for OEM ripoffs, especially empty ones.

Data stealing (3, Interesting)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806279)

Linux can do it just as well as Microsoft and Lexmark! Admittedly, you do have to install [li.org] it yourself, but the feature is there and just as good as these so called professional vendors can offer!

Re:Data stealing (3, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806481)

Admittedly, you do have to install it yourself
Yes, but that makes *all* the difference.

We (or at least me, though I seriously doubt I'm alone) generally have no problems with `spyware' if it's installation is *completely* voluntary and if the user is educated on what it is and does clearly (and not in some 500 page document) before it's installed. Especially if it's something that the person has to manually install the program, and especially if the program is benign and useful (counting linux users = benign, but not terribly useful for a given user.)

You may think this has something to do with Linux, but it really doesn't -- we generally don't have problems with Microsoft Update either, for example, even the automatic functions, and they phone home on a regular basis as well. This could change, however -- for example, if we were to learn that the program was reporting back more information than we were told it did.

ZoneAlarm (5, Interesting)

TVC15 (518429) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806280)

Interesting, I just installed ZoneAlarm on a PC last week and it gave me an alarm that some Lexmark process wanted to make a network connection. I havnt had a Lexmark connected to that thing in probably 3 years (and can find no obviously labled Lexmark files) but have been too lazy to reformat the drive. Perhaps it's time to break out the install CDs.

Re:ZoneAlarm (4, Interesting)

Captain Chad (102831) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806376)

Would that have been the 'PDP RPC server' by any chance? I had the same issue with a Compaq-branded Lexmark printer. It took a bit of google searching [google.com] just to find out it was from Lexmark and that 'PDP' stands for 'Print Driver Plus'.

Re:ZoneAlarm (5, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806418)

I guess we now know what the 'Plus' part is. :)

Re:ZoneAlarm (2, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806470)

Want sound effects [primus.ca] for ZoneAlarm? (Shameless plug.)

Re:ZoneAlarm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806473)

As a sidenote from me: be careful when combining ZoneAlarm with the Windows XP SP2 firewall. If you don't like watching your machine reboot endlessly over and over again, that is.

Posible reason (5, Insightful)

coolsva (786215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806281)

I believe Lexmark recentl lost a case where they tried to apply the DCMA against a 3rd party ink cartridge manufacturer. Since now they cannot force he user to buy their high priced cartridges, perhaps this way, they would know that you used one of these cartridges and they can then void your warranty
However, this does not justify them sending the data without your knowing/asking. If they wanted to keep a flag in the printer and when you return the printer for a repair under warranty, they cold check for this flag and refuse to honor the warranty.

And, why would they want to hide their intent and send the data to a wierd sounding URL (lkcc1.com)? I would have first suspected some other scumware trying to phone home, never suspecting lexmark. Well, guess you cannot trust any compan to have honor ro ethics these days.

Another Posible Reason (4, Insightful)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806310)

Lexmark could also very well instruct the device driver to STOP WORKING if it detects a third party ink cartridge...

Re:Another Posible Reason (1)

wdd1040 (640641) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806407)

Lexmark could also very well instruct the device driver to STOP WORKING if it detects a third party ink cartridge...

And how quickly would that get publicized and the general non-geek public realize that Lexmark == Bad.

Re:Another Posible Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806484)

Even geeks still buy Lexmark, if you scan the comments here. I don't even want to think about a possible reason why _anyone_ regularly reading Slashdot can come home with a Lexmark product. I bet some readers here still print out their emails.

Re:Another Posible Reason (5, Interesting)

Anomalous Coward (44935) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806433)

More likely they would instruct the driver to go into "crap quality" mode. Then they could point to the lousy print you get with 3rd party ink and say "See! Those other ink cartriges aren't as good as ours! Look how much better the print is when you use genuine Lexmark brand ink cartriges!"

At least, that's what I would do if I was a sleazy, money-grubbing corporation....

Re:Posible reason (2, Informative)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806412)

No this dates WAY back - to 2001 google groups [google.com]

Newer print drivers only? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806284)

I have a Lexmark Optra E+ laser printer. It's several years old. I'm very happy with it as a printer.

I don't see any c:\program_files\lexmark500 directory even though I have the print driver, downloaded from lexmark.com, installed.

I've added the following to my hosts file just in case.

0.0.0.0 www.lxkcc1.com

printing ripoff (4, Insightful)

pchan- (118053) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806285)

okay, enough of these printing scumbags. printers are getting worse, print quality is crap, ink cartridge prices are obscene while lasting for shorter durations (my gf's printer will not print in black when the color cartridge is empty), DMCA restrictions on refilling ink, spying on users...

bullshit. i will never buy one of these printers again (this means you lexmark, canon, hp, and your friends). when will a manufacturer stand up and sell good quality printers, refillable by the user using just an ink bottle? there is a market of people who are willing not to buy the cheapest piece of shit printer because they know how that turns out. who will fill it?

Re:printing ripoff (4, Informative)

Helix150 (177049) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806317)

I recommend the canon multipass series... I have a MP730, its a combo printer/scanner (w/ feeder)/fax/copier, very nice machine. A bit expensive ($300) but IMHO well worth it. The Canon ink tanks are clear so you can see the ink inside them, and there are no chips on them. The printer measures the ink level by shining a light through the tank. They are quite easy to refill, and LaserMonks [lasermonks.com] has replacement tanks for IIRC about $5 each. Replacement official tanks are about $7 each. Four colors, CMYK.

Re:printing ripoff (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806356)

I recommend a pencil and paper. One caveat is to always use a single sheet of paper instead of a pad though so spies cant find out what you wrote by rubbing graphite over the pad. Also tell the recipient to eat the page after they have read it.

Re:printing ripoff (4, Informative)

jridley (9305) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806372)

I also recommend Canon printers. I have an i970. While not designed intentionally for refilling, it's about as good as it gets these days. As you say, the tanks are just clear plastic boxes with ink in them, refilling is a snap. I've previously refilled Epson and HP, and the Canon is by far the easiest. After refilling Epson/HP, you have to let the ink settle overnight to eliminate bubbles, and do a lot of fiddling to get it printing right. I've refilled my Canon tanks about 15 times so far and haven't had to even do a nozzle cleaning pass once. The printer does automatically do a nozzle clean if it hasn't for a while during idle time after a print job.

The i970 is a 6 color printer, FWIW. Photo printing is quite nice.

Re:printing ripoff (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806435)

I prefer the Leeloo Dallas Multipass.....

Re:printing ripoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806480)

Awesome, didn't even see it coming!

Re:printing ripoff (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806333)

Buy a panasonic. Dunno about their small ones, but they make a selling point from the fact that their office kit is refillable with a bucket. It ain't anywhere near cheap, the size is monstrous, drivers are mildly horrible and 2-3 years behind the relevant OS requirements, old printers do not have drivers for new OSes as they stop development the day the first printer in a model is out of the door, Linux support inexistent. But it lasts forever and costs nearly nothing to run.

Re:printing ripoff (4, Informative)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806366)

Get an used (old model) HP Laserjet. They can be found at reasonable prices, with service and replacement parts still available, and it's toner lasts forever. The printer will too, they are some of the most relaiable printers ever built. Too bad HP has been going down the crapper lately.
Laser printers are expensive at a first glance, but the price per page is a fraction of a inkjet. It's overall a much better value.

Still, if you want a cheap one, try the newer Cannon inkjets. You'll still be forced to buy overpriced, half-filled ink tanks, but they work as expected, the printing heads don't clog and the print quality is top notch (for an inkjet). I have a Cannon S1000 at work that has been working perfectly for almost two years now. I wish i could say the same about Epson printers.

Re:printing ripoff (1)

Handpaper (566373) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806411)

Get an used (old model) HP Laserjet.

A very big second to that.
I've used a LaserJet 4 Plus at home for c.2 years now. The gods alone know how many pages it had printed before I bought it second hand (it's ex-British Telecom - still has the asset sticker on it), but it's purred through the two boxes (10,000 pages) I've fed it. Toner? Nope, not replaced it yet.

old HP LJ4050 is good. (1)

steve_l (109732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806477)

I'm running a hand-me-down LaserJet at home; it sits on the lan, has power saving, etc, etc. Refills are possible (no DMCA laws) and the printer's own web page provides the configuration GUI (warning, Java applets).

The inkjet printers are built on a different model -revenue through ink- than the laser printers, where third party refills are mainstream. Indeed what Lexmark were trying to do with their DMCA gig was do the same lock in in firmware that ink cartridges do in hardware. They lost.

So: look at laser printers, especially those on the LAN. make sure they talk LPD and dont need a windows only app for management. That is, take your laptop and some cat-5 cable to the showroom, and test it. Colour laser printers do pretty cheap colour prints too, and are becoming low cost.

Usenet post (5, Informative)

nstrom (152310) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806288)

Original usenet post from comp.periphs.printers on Google Groups here [google.com] , or here [google.com] for a news: link.

Re:Usenet post (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806391)

The original port is there, but I notice that the coverage of the rest of the thread is pretty spotty on Google Groups. (Even allowing for their feature that changing the subject of a post will de-thread a post.) Possibly some of the posters used x-no-archive?

Lately I've been noticing that Google drops a lot of posts. There have been a few cases where repeated posts of the same content by different people from different news servers (after the first failed) haven't propagated to Google. Definitely nothing horrible about the text, no x-no-archive: yes, and not BI >= 20. Sometimes chopping the text in two and posting seperately will result in one half not making it to Google (but everywhere else fine).

I haven't pinned down the weirdness yet, but people who still use Usenet and think of Google as the definitive archive might want to keep an eye on this.

Informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806290)

I'll probably be marked off-topic for this, but something strange is going on with Slashcode.

I am logged in currently, but am unable to post with my account. I am (as you can see) able to post anonymously by checking the little Post Anonymously box, though.

The error message says that excessive posting from my domain is the reason why I can't post, but usually that just results in all posts being rejected, not just the logged-in ones.

Well, this is an interesting Slash upgrade to say the least. Wouldn't it encourage trolls by forcing them to post anonymously? Then again, I'm not a Slashdot edtior, my level of competence is pretty far removed from that position.

Re:Informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806500)

Please reassign to the officially marked free speech zone. Our officers will escort you.

One question to answer cui bono: have you posted deliberate insults against the editors, government or anything specially witty or rude against any of these bodies?

Slashdot errors are one thing, but censorship is another. And I've read too many posts on the same problem in the last days and weeks. Tell me, are the orange jump suits and cable ties handed out on Slashdot now?

In Soviet Russia... (0, Troll)

Vicsun (812730) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806291)

peripherals monitor you!

I'm so sorry; it had to be said.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806305)

What has slashdot come to when you have to apologize for cracking a joke?

Re:In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806324)

"What has slashdot come to when you have to apologize for cracking a joke?"

Boring and repetetive?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

No, really, I'm sorry.*



* Read: mod this funny, you heartless bastards.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806423)

I laughed, I cried, I modded it down anyway.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (3, Funny)

j0e_average (611151) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806326)

Sadly, the joke, in this case, would be:

In Soviet Russia, you monitor your peripherals!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (0, Troll)

mikael (484) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806488)

In high school, the hall monitor monitors your monitor.

That's ok... (5, Funny)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806296)


Just as long as my Dvd burner isn't monitoring what I am burning...

Re:That's ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806344)

We laugh now, but will we in five years, I wonder ?

Didn't the users agree to this monitoring? (3, Interesting)

Secrity (742221) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806299)

Somehow I don't believe that Lexmark would install this spyware without having the EULA cover it. This may be another example of people just hitting "AGREE" (effectively signing) without actually reading the EULA (a legally binding agrement). Stupid laws? Stupid people? Both? You decide.

Re:Didn't the users agree to this monitoring? (3, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806320)

you have to be kidding. EULAS are a waste of time. you are seriously telling me you read them? I am 35, I dont have many years left ;) I aint gonna waste half of them reading longwinded legalese drafted by some creep in a suit who earns ten times my salary.
If I buy a printer, it should print what I tell it too and fck all else. Adding a clause in a 30 page eula that says using this printer signs my kids over for experimentation isnt exactly playing fair.
fck lexmark.

Re:Didn't the users agree to this monitoring? (1)

Hackeron (704093) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806369)

Hard to say really, the EULA is long and boring and I cant imagine anyone reading all that crap just to print something -- so stupid law.

Then again there are alternatives -- dont buy printers with no linux support, they suck anyway, and printing under linux is more than fast these days.

And for the unsupported printers, there's a cheap commercial driver called Turboprint thats worth it if you just must have the unsupported printer in question (like my Canon i850 -- crap print quality).

Re:Didn't the users agree to this monitoring? (4, Informative)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806415)

This may be another example of people just hitting "AGREE" (effectively signing) without actually reading the EULA (a legally binding agrement).

Legally binding? I don't think so. EULAs have questionable legal status at best (I'm sure some lawyer could argue for the fact that the fact that the EULA is not printed on the box and the fact that some say "If you do not agree, you cannot install this software" could very well amount to coercion or something. EULAs have never been tested in court.

I would love to see a EULA with some seemingly innocuous yet annoying clause such as "By agreeing to this license, you give everyone the right to call you 'butthead' for the rest of your life." and then have that tested in court. Ideally, there would be one of two outcomes: EULAs become illega or software vendors are legally obligated to accepted returned opened software if the user did not agree to the EULA. (Which means many software vendors would stop stocking software with crap EULAs, and maybe the software industry would get a wake-up call.

And the older crowd here will remember that EULAs didn't always used to suck. They used to be printed in fine print on envelopes containing the CD or floppies, and said in big letters "If you open this envelope, you agree to the license". Which is much better, because if you didn't agree to the license, you could take the software back and if the diskettes were unopened, the place would almost always accept returns.

Re:Didn't the users agree to this monitoring? (2, Informative)

the_brat_king (443955) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806503)

Better than that, when I had a retail shop a few years back, we had some QXPress and MS Software CDs, on the jewel case it said "By opening this case you agree to the enclosed license agreement"

Note: z605 works PERFECT under linux with cups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806304)

The $50 lexmark z605 works PERFECT with linux! Graphics, word processers, spreadsheets, everything! As for this article: This just in - the electric company has just been caught "red handed" monitoring everyone's power usage! OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!

Engadget again! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806306)

What the fuck.

Sites to block (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806313)

lxkcc1.lexmark.com
www.lxkcc1.com
lxkcc1.com
ww w.lxkcc2.com
lxkcc2.com

ips
192.146.101.0 - 192.146.101.255

Re:Sites to block (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806321)

www.slashdot.com

Re:Sites to block (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806430)

Yeah, bastiches! I added a line to hosts: 66.35.250.150 www.slashdot.com. That fixes them good!

Didn't TFA indicate that... (2, Interesting)

gargonia (798684) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806314)

... the information was being stored in a file? Perhaps someone who has access to a copy of the file can post it somewhere. I'm sure there isn't going to be high security on it, so perhaps someone can crack it open and we'll see what kind of information they're getting.

how about opensource device drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806323)

mfgs of device drivers should opensource their device driver software so it will be open to auditing & public scrutiny..

maybe a public data base where any anonymous user can search and review devices & their drivers and things like what Lexmark is doing can be exposed...

i know a chic that has a Lexmark printer and its device driver has gobs of kludge and cruft that is totally unnecesarry including audio files that say "Printing Started"

no windoze installed on my computer, CUPS is what runs my printer, is CUPs spying on my printing habits? or any other Linux software?

is the internet evil? or a benevolent big brother?

Good thing really (1)

drl0gic (644095) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806342)

1. Put spyware on printer driver
2. Tell that you warranty is voided because you have used a non-certified cartridge in date xx/yy to print counterfeits and porn together
3. ...
4. Profit!

Man.. I hate this profit maximization thing (1)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806343)

Lexmark is so obsessed with it man. Why can't they just be more content with regular money like other printer companies?

Jeez

Lexmark sees you need a new model.... (2, Insightful)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806348)

google groups link [google.com]

I don't find this at all shocking. Lexmark makes those lovely OEM Dell printers that you sometimes can get free with a PC. Not only is the software a commercial to buy ink from Dell but the cartages are keyed so you have to mail order the ink. Now Lexmark can track you by serial number and possibly detect if you've been a naughty user and used 3rd party cartages or refilled you cartages. Can anyone say warranty void? Even better still, they can collect enough information on your printing habits and offer you bigger and better printers.

There are good reasons to object to this. What we need are some solid facts as to what exactly is reported to Lexmark, and how to prevent this. Would adding "www.lxkcc1.com 127.0.0.1" to the hosts file be effective?

Re:Lexmark sees you need a new model.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806388)

Not unless your hosts file is weird. ;) That should be "127.0.0.1 www.lxkcc1.com", bub.

Re:Lexmark sees you need a new model.... (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806447)

Oh sure, self-slashdot my local web server. (Depending on the OS, 0.0.0.0 will null-route completely.)

Re:Lexmark sees you need a new model.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806426)

I don't see what the big deal is with using third party catriges voiding the warranty.

After all, I've had 4 customers with Lexmark printer s that died within 60 days of purchase which Lexmark refused warranty service on for one reason or another. (abusive use in two cases... the customer printed an average of 20 pages a day... One because the customer actually filled out the warranty and registration stuff and gave the wrong po box... I forget the forth reason.)

They don't honor the warranty anyway, so what's the big deal about the 3rd party catridges?

Or just spoof data (4, Funny)

steve_l (109732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806491)

Imagine a perl script to generate spoof statistics. Imagine a million ./ readers running the script as a cron job.

They'd soon stop trying to spy on the users, if the data was all that everyone keep on printing the same url all the time, something with "goat" in the URL...

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806352)

Lexmark has a reputation for making cheap junk. I've seen it firsthand: I made the mistake of buying a Z51 (Z52?) at Fry's on April 14th, 2000 so I could print my taxes. I went through 3 of those stupid things in one evening. None of them worked right.. If memory serves, paper handling was the issue.

The HP 932c I exchanged it for is still running strong.. I gave it to my neighbor last year.

Lexmark's history with Static Control and the DMCA doesn't sit well with me. They won't be getting any of my hard-earned money. That's a promise.

On a brighter note, the website "www.lxkcc1.com" (192.146.101.142) is dead.. maybe someone did them a favor.. or they wised-up.

IN Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806365)

You Monitoring Your Peripherals.

That's OK, Lexmark.... (1)

vudufixit (581911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806374)

Because I'm monitoring the poor quality of your equipment and the equipment you let Dell rebadge with their name. And whenever my clients need a new printer, I make sure not to recommend you, and recommend Brother or HP instead.

Re:That's OK, Lexmark.... (1)

wdd1040 (640641) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806451)

I hope you don't have a VPN Solution at work as the Brothers drivers will always mess it up.

I recommend HP and high-end Cannon to users.

In Soviet Russia... (2, Funny)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806378)

...your monitor monitors you!

Problems with closed-source printer drivers? (1)

Hobart (32767) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806393)

I seem to recall a
story from somewhere [oreilly.com] about sketchy companies with closed source printer drivers. I think the guy who was affected by it did something or other ...

Why wasn't this popularised before? (2, Insightful)

northcat (827059) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806394)

A quick search on google groups reveals that this has been going on since as far back as 2001 (google groups [google.com] ). Why am I seeing an article so late?

Whaddya bet.... (2, Insightful)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806408)

....buried 500 paragraphs into a EULA that the user "consented" to be monitored?

Xerox network lasers (5, Interesting)

prestwich (123353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806417)

We caught a xerox network laser printer trying to send mail, by itself back to xerox; it tried three different outgoing smtp servers that fortunately our gateway blocked.

I don't know what was in those mails - but a google search revealed an article about a large data mining system based on Oracle; I think the main intent was to detect reasons for early failure - but who knows what happened to the data.

www.lxkcc1.com aka 192.146.101.142 (2, Funny)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806437)

Duly firewalled.

Well then... (4, Funny)

Flizesh (775141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806444)

Can they track why their craptastic printers keep breaking all the time? Never buying one of them again.

broadband routers (3, Interesting)

Vladimir (98464) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806445)

my router logs all in/out connections and keeps bandwith utilization statistics. Last morning it informed me there is a new firmware update (so it called home). It is also capable to establish VPN tunnels via IPsec so it can send anything it likes without any possibility to examine content. Does it spy on me? Who knows..., but I started to think about installing a normal Linux box instead.

I don't know about periperals... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806455)

...but the toaster has been laughing at me from time to time.

Slashdot are evil port scanners (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10806467)

The IP 66.35.250.150 is the Slashdot website, type the ip into the browser for slashdot main page.

Here is my firewall log:

11/13/2004 23:14:31 Port Scan Minor Incoming TCP 66.35.250.150 05-00-20-00-05-00 * MY IP *
00-00-05-00-00-00 * My Name * BEAST3 Normal 1 11/13/2004 23:27:33 11/13/2004 23:27:33

Somebody is scanning your computer.
Your computer's TCP ports:
80, 1080, 3128, 8000 and 8080 have been scanned from 66.35.250.150.

Re:Slashdot are evil port scanners (1)

Gwala (309968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806499)

By the look of that, it's just a check to see if you are running through an anonymous proxy. IRC nets have been doing things like that for years now, seems only a small step for a major discussion forum to take similar precautions.

-Adam

2 Computers (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806476)

The safest thing to do is have 2 computers:

#1 - for internet useage only...
#2 - for everything else...

Their excuse (1)

Daath (225404) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806487)

Their excuse was that they didn't have an inkling as to user's usage ;-)

Closed source considered harmful (2, Insightful)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 9 years ago | (#10806496)

It's just another example of how much control software companies have over you when you use their closed-source software (and drivers): You have no idea what the software really does!
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