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Secret Printer ID Codes May Be Illegal In the EU

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the seeing-yellow dept.

Printer 229

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "In response to a query from a member of the EU Parliament, an EU commissioner issued an official statement (.DOC) saying that, while they do not violate any laws, secret printer tracking dot codes may violate the human right to privacy guaranteed by the EU's Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. If you don't remember what these are, Slashdot has discussed the issue before. In short, most color printers print small yellow dots on every sheet in a code that identifies the printer and, potentially, its owner. The EFF is running an awareness campaign, and a couple of years back made a start on deciphering the yellow dot code."

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Simple enough fix (5, Funny)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435732)

So to stay private, then, one should print sensitive documents on yellow paper?

Re:Simple enough fix (4, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435838)

My color laser printer (Konica-Minolta 2530DL [newegg.com] ) only prints the yellow dots in color mode.

But that printer is a bit different in that it rotates the toner cartridges into place for every color that is going to go on each page, so a color page has to wait for all 4(CMYK [wikipedia.org] ) cartridges to rotate into place, but in black-only mode doesn't rotate anything to be about 5-6x faster.

The reason I chose that printer? Konica-Minolta supplies open-source printer drivers that compiled on my AMD64-Ubuntu box.

Printing the Frosty Piss (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22435982)

I bet it totally prints yellow dots when you want a picture of the Frosty Piss!
 

Re:Simple enough fix (0)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436032)

My color laser printer (Konica-Minolta 2530DL) only prints the yellow dots in color mode.

Oh yeah, well my printer can print yellow even when it's in grayscale mode! *rolls eyes*

Re:Simple enough fix (2, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436108)

Oh yeah, well my printer can print yellow even when it's in grayscale mode! *rolls eyes*

Hmm, yeah, I did phrase that badly. But, color/grayscale mode is relevant to the page printed, and the printer could put the yellow dots down on an otherwise grayscale page, just that for that specific model it would be much slower.

Re:Simple enough fix (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436166)

I know what you meant. I was just playing around...

Re:Simple enough fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436110)

Could you try any harder to karma whore?

Everyone on here better know what CMYK is. I hope you feel better about yourself now that you have told the world you run open source, AMD powered Ubuntu.

Re:Simple enough fix (2, Funny)

MagicBox (576175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436208)

The reason I chose that printer? Konica-Minolta supplies open-source printer drivers that compiled on my AMD64-Ubuntu box. Maybe you should chose an OS that doesn't force you to spend your money on garbage peripherals just because it has limited support for everything

sorry I couldn't resist.......

Re:Simple enough fix (4, Interesting)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436272)

So I guess the yellow dots get inserted at the hardware level.. Could you do us a favor and check those open source printer drivers to see if the yellow dots are inserted at the software level? If so, you might be able to recruit more Ubuntu users if you could offer yellow-dot-free drivers....

Seth

Re:Simple enough fix (5, Informative)

MrMacman2u (831102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436528)

No, it's definetly a hardware level process, you get them even with internal printer status/info pages (assuming they are color).

On the bright side, most color lasers do not insert the yellow dots on black and white pages, though a few models from various manufactures DO tag every single page.

Re:Simple enough fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436294)

I can has postscript?

Re:Simple enough fix (3, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436076)

Just because your human eye can't see yellow dots on a yellow background doesn't mean a chemical analysis couldn't spot it. Hell, for all we know, they might glow bright green under blacklight.

Re:Simple enough fix (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436176)

It's the same yellow ink as anything else yellow, so if you're that concerned, print out a page with yellow on it and determine the properties thereof.

Or slap some whiteout over the dots, or scribble over 'em with a black marker. Or cut off that corner.

Re:Simple enough fix (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436834)

I'm thinking more that you can print single yellow dots and false serial codes. I assume the serial codes are repeated many times over the page but are in fixed locations.

If they are only there once, you could remove them.

If they are there once or multiple times, you can over print select dots and mess up the validity of the codes.

Re:Simple enough fix (5, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436932)

Could be useful in other ways, if you could incriminate someone else's printer by printing the right code...

What about digital cameras? (3, Interesting)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436356)

Are there any digital cameras that watermark photos with identifying information? So that if you take a photo and post it on the internet, the manufacturer/government could track it, even if you strip out the EXIF data?

I'm curious...

Re:What about digital cameras? (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436692)

Hmmmm...interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would work, since the (arguably) most common format for such pictures is JPEG, which is a lossy format. Obvious watermarks (like those you see on many web pages) will work, of course, but isn't there a risk that a watermark that was sufficiently slight to prevent a human from noticing also be sufficiently slight to be erased by the JPEG compression algorithm? I don't know that it wouldn't work; just askin' :)

Re:What about digital cameras? (1)

brunascle (994197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437042)

the watermarking could be built into the compression algorithm, or added after the algorithm runs.

i imagine it might even be easier to watermark lossy formats, since imperfections (and anomalies) in the final product wouldn't arouse suspicion.

Re:What about digital cameras? (3, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436708)

I don't remember which models were supposed to start it, but Canon has a couple that are going to scan your eye and "encode" that information into the photo. They claim it's so you can protect yourself from IP infringement.

Re:Simple enough fix (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436466)

Or just steal your printers and supplies.

Re:Simple enough fix (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436618)

Or better still, figure out where the yellow dots are being printed, and then add a whole lot more right where the code is.

Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22435752)

... secret printer tracking dot codes may violate the human right to privacy guaranteed by the EU's Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
I'm thinking that I would like to see a meeting between the EU's Convention of Human Rights & the EU's European Commission.

First topic on the agenda: biometrics for visitors [slashdot.org] .

Or was privacy only guaranteed to European Citizens?

Re:Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436066)

Apparently not, what with all of the cameras in the UK (some of which talk back).

Re:Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436390)

Apparently not, what with all of the cameras in the UK (some of which talk back).
I does seem the that police are going out of their way to invoke as many 1984 clichés as they possibly can.

Re:Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (3, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436874)

Apparently not, what with all of the cameras in the UK (some of which talk back).

Quit your complaining. Didn't the government just raise the chocolate ration by 20 grams?

Re:Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (4, Informative)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436358)

Sigh...

No-one ever gets this right. Including the summary of this article.

The Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, is a document of The Council of Europe.

It has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the European Union. This is not the same organization, despite having SIMILAR membership, and the word Europe in the title. In fact, not all Council of Europe members are actually European -- Turkey for example.

Re:Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436706)

Turkey is partly in Europe, partly in Asia (mostly Asia).

Re:Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436736)

Sigh...

"No-one ever gets this right"

Including YOU.

YOU ARE WRONG.

"It has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the European Union."

No. That is wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_of_Fundamental_Rights_of_the_European_Union [wikipedia.org]

"(Article 53) 'Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised, in their respective fields of application, by Union law and international law and by international agreements to which the Union, the Community or all the Member States are party, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and by the Member States' constitutions."

See why you're wrong? It DOES have something to do with the European Union. It was used as a basis for the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EUROPEAN UNION.

Sigh at your own ignorance, but not at someone else, especially when you're totally wrong like you were.

Re:Human Rights or European Citizen Rights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22437104)

I fail to see how this is different from the USA, where just about every supposedly inalienable right is only recognised for US-American citizens (and maybe Canadians, if you're lucky), too.

Seriously. Concerned about warrantless spying on US-American citizens? Funny, I never saw any outrage from any US-American over the warrantless spying on just about everyone else on the entire damn planet.

So don't act as if you're somehow special.

So, print color as shades of gray (0, Redundant)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435862)

and remove the color cartridge. It sucks to waste color ink printing some order confirmation thingy anyway.

Re:So, print color as shades of gray (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435986)

None of the printers that print the codes use any ink.

They are all color laser printers. In my color laser [newegg.com] printer, even the "freebie" toner cartridges that came with the printer last for 1,500 pages, and then I replaced them after 2,000 pages with high-capacity cartridges that last for 4,500 pages each.

Also, I am pretty sure all of them use 4 colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, so that your "order confirmation" printing would only use the color toner that was needed.

only laser printers do this (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436048)

... part of a deal struck with selected color laser printer manufacturers, ostensibly to identify counterfeiters ...

The article suggests it's only a problem with laser printers, so no ink, only toner

Prevent your printer from being registered (4, Interesting)

wwphx (225607) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435886)

1. Do not buy from the manufacturer.
2. Maybe pay cash when buying printer.
3. Do not send in warranty card.
4. Don't let a factory rep or facility service it.

If you can prevent the printer's serial # from being tied to your identity, you should be OK. Of course, some of the very high-end printers can only be bought from the manufacturer or a registered VAR, so don't use those types of printers for nefarious deeds.

I don't know about printers, but apparently with Canon digital cameras they will register the camera serial number with your name if you send it in to Canon for service.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (4, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435912)

And you need to make sure you never print anything that can be tied to to if you send it to the government, like a tax return.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (2, Funny)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436764)

Or better still, offer to print someone else's tax return (or other document)...

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436894)

I know you are (kind of) joking, but there is one small flaw with that idea:

If your printer's serial # gets registered with the address on that tax return, and then you print some "illegal" stuff, it would come back to that person, but all they have to say is "I had ray-auch print my tax return", and then a single test-page from your printer would reveal that you printed both documents.

But, if the police don't care that much, then yeah, your plan would work.

At any rate, it would cause problems for the other person.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (1)

wkk2 (808881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436044)

5. Make sure your firewall blocks all external packets to or from your printers.

This may also eliminate potential security problems.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (1)

wkk2 (808881) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436186)

6. Use a print server so the client (and their drivers) can't talk directly to the printer.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436070)

You forgot 5. Don't ever connect the printer to a computer that will ever be connected to the internet.

Or connect to a network... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436074)

Or install the driver...

Come on, if you use a grocery loyalty card and cash every single time, there is no tie to your spending habits. Until you accidentally use a credit card once. And then your entire history can be backfilled.

Better option? Old printer or black ink/toner only printer.

I'd like to see somebody sue the printer companies for prematurely drawing down the yellow ink.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436106)

Buy a used printer.

Or print your final documents at a Kinkos. Pay in cash.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436140)

I don't know about printers, but apparently with Canon digital cameras they will register the camera serial number with your name if you send it in to Canon for service.
That may be the case, but it's my understanding every camera is uniquely identifiable by the pictures it has taken. Serial number or not, you take some pictures of some fucked up shit it and the cops get a hold of your camera, they can tie the pics to you.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436594)

Not if I bought it used.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (1)

Guinness2702 (840158) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436164)

"If you can prevent the printer's serial # from being tied to your identity"

It won't help if they track you down for some crime (I dunno, sending a ransom note, or printing up a series of Hex characters [blogspot.com] ), and find the printer in your home!

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436258)

Aren't canon trying to patent some sort of Iris-scan copyright tech for photos taken with their cams. It's mean for "your" protection, but me thinks there is an underlying potential for dirty tricks.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (5, Interesting)

MrMacman2u (831102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436314)

I am a printer technician for Canon, Xerox, HP, Lexmark, etc... I deal with thousands of printers, both color and black and white.

1. Every color laser printer made in the last 10 years from every manufacturer that I have ever encountered uses the "yellow dots" tagging.

2. You have 300-12k hanging around in cash? Go for it.

3. You're not going to take advantage of the "get out of jail free" card the absolves you from a 300-1000 dollar repair for one year. Other than that, this may prevent your identiy from being tied to your shiney new printer.

4. Goooooood luck. When it breaks, you need someone to fix it or you will be dumping a ton of cash out fairly often for new machines.

I'd like to know why this is such a big deal to individual people first off. This system has been in place for more than a decade in most machines and no one has ever said anything before, nor, I believe, has it ever been used to screw someone over OR catch a criminal...

Am I saying I agree with the practice of tagging every page? Heck NO! I've never liked the idea since they introduced it originally, I believe, to prevent people from using high end laser printers to counterfiet money and if they did, to trace it back to the one(s) responsible.

To my knowledge, it's never been used as such. I implore someone to prove me wrong if I am.

The only ones that should be even overly concerned (aside from wasted toner and unneeded wear and tear on printing components) is large companies or government institutions.

This whole issue is not a major one. It's more of an annoyance that would be nice if it was removed.

P.S. - If you can get some, print a color page on black paper (preferably semi-gloss), the dots stand out really well... failing that if you have a large high volume printer available with a transfer belt easily veiwable, start a 4 page print job and pop the cover halfway through to force it to jam, the dots are sometimes (depends on the model and stage of the imaging process) very visible on the belt.

TRAITOR (3, Interesting)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436696)

If you've known about this since 1997 why didn't you tell anybody ? The EFF only started working on it in 2005

> I'd like to know why this is such a big deal to individual people first off.

Because some of us actually organise against the machinations of the state, perhaps you've heard of extraordinary rendition the US govt. has been doing or the 30,000 Argentines [desaparecidos.org] who were disappeared between 1976 and 1978 for opposing their govt.

It is extraordinarily naive of you to think that having previously secret (thanks in part to YOU) invisible identifying marks on every document printed from your printer isn't a cause for concern.

NDA (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436940)

If you've known about this since 1997 why didn't you tell anybody ?
I'm guessing it's a confidentiality agreement. Employees can't talk about the code unless and until someone else publishes the existence of the code.

Re:NDA (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437074)

Unless they're a socially conscious whistle-blower. Then they can talk about any goddamn thing they want.

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (4, Interesting)

ntk (974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436716)

You're not likely to hear how who was affected by this, for the same reason that it's been almost unknown to the consumers buying your printers for the last decade: it's been convenient to keep this "feature" of their purchases secret. Or do you think that if the US government and manufacturers had publicly announced their agreement, there would have been a calm acceptance by Americans of the importance of paying for a system to invisibly watermark their own printouts?

I'm glad that your primary concern is large companies and government institutions. As I wrote in the EFF Deeplink, our concern includes dissidents working in authoritarian regimes who remain ignorant about this feature of the technology they use to spread their work, and the authoritarian governments intent on tracing and suppressing their citizen's literature and information sources -- who are not so ignorant.

Do you think the printer companies would proudly mention if their tracking technology was used to catch these undesirables?

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (2, Interesting)

operagost (62405) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436970)

Every color laser printer made in the last 10 years from every manufacturer that I have ever encountered uses the "yellow dots" tagging.
Not according to the EFF; for example, Oki is clean. Do you service those? What method did you use to detect the dots?

Re:Prevent your printer from being registered (2, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436384)

How about, 5) don't get a color printer. Get a nice, crisp, inexpensive black laser or led printer. Do all your color printing at CVS on their glossy/matte photopaper. It's less costly per page just on consumables, at least if 200 pages @ 5% coverage for $29.98 means what I think it means.

find the dots (3, Interesting)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435976)

If any of you have a blue LED (like those found on keychain or pen lights), you can fairly easily see the pattern of dots on a color laser printout (like anything printed in color from Kinkos).

Re:find the dots (1)

themushroom (197365) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436780)

Two words, once you've located them: white-out

"human right to privacy" (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22435990)

I love the sound of that.

however, in today's terror-terrorized (is that a new expression?) world, there IS no more 'right to privacy'.

I wish there was! but even in europe, there really is not a right to privacy.

even in the US constitution, is there ANY real clauses that talk about right to privacy? other than illegal search and seizure (which has been bastardized into 'we can invade your house and do a sneek-and-peek anytime we SAY so') - there is no right to privacy.

it should be added as a fundamental right, but I don't expect it anytime soon. too much power is gotton by violating your privacy. power is addicting and so the gov won't ever give THAT one back. horse has long left the barn..

Kind of sad (1)

Filter (6719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436202)

We think our human rights stem from what someone has written down? Do we attribute our freedom to what no one else has taken from us? "even in the US constitution" wtf man, live free or die!

Re:"human right to privacy" (4, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436680)

even in the US constitution, is there ANY real clauses that talk about right to privacy?

Please see Amendment 4, Amendment 5, Amendment 9 and Amendment 10.

Re:"human right to privacy" (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437058)

if we have a right to privacy, as you assert, then WHY is there widespread wiretapping, sneak-and-peeks, secret courts, DMCA takedowns and so on?

how about having to open our suitcases at airports? that, to me, fully violates my right to privacy.

what about cops insisting that they see our photos if they 'suspect' us of doing some 'bad' photography, even while out on public streets?

sorry - but all I see in this country convinces me that any 'paper rights' have long since been invalided IN PRACTICE.

Tag badsummary. (4, Informative)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436012)

In short, most color printers print small yellow dots on every sheet in a code that identifies the printer and, potentially, its owner.
Every instance I've heard of this involves color laser printers. AFAIK color inkjet printers don't do this.

Re:Tag badsummary. (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436152)

AFAIK, it has to do with the DPI of the printer. I think only laser printers have those resolutions, however. The idea is to prevent someone from printing $100 bills/IDs/etc on their printer.

Re:Tag badsummary. (4, Insightful)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436492)

The idea is to prevent someone from printing $100 bills/IDs/etc on their printer.

Yes but that doesn't mean that it could not be used by, say an agency that wishes to monitor who is distributing political leaflets for example. Looking at the US from the outside, freedom of speech and the press are wonderful - it seems that your government is accessing more and more ways to check how you are using those freedoms.

Re:inkjets might (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436300)

Last week, my brother-in-law was having trouble printing with a brand-new Brother inkjet. He was trying to print a B/W document, but the printer refused to print because the yellow ink cart was depleted. Granted, this is second hand info (to me; third-hand to you,) but it makes me puspicious.

With an inkjet, it'd be pretty obvious if it was "phantom" printing all over a page that was just supposed to have B/W text up top. Something linear at the beginning of a page wouldn't draw as much attention. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the printer in question, otherwise I would've already confirmed that it does or does not print the dots. Our corporate Brother HL-4040CN color laser definitely prints the dots. We tested it last week.

Re:inkjets might (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436476)

it makes me puspicious
Yuck! And also, most inkjet printers won't print (even in B/W) when any cartridge is empty. The newer inkjets have the printhead in the carriage, and not on each cartridge as wass the case with early inkjets. So, if there is a dry cartridge (or no cartridge), and printing is allowed anyway, it can ruin the printhead.

Re:inkjets might (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436978)

And also, most inkjet printers won't print (even in B/W) when any cartridge is empty. The newer inkjets have the printhead in the carriage, and not on each cartridge as wass the case with early inkjets. So, if there is a dry cartridge (or no cartridge), and printing is allowed anyway, it can ruin the printhead.
When the printhead is parked, the nozzles are capped. Why can't it just uncap the black when printing in grayscale?

Ha! Suckers! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436104)

My ... printer .- never -- prints ..- such . silly .-.. codes; -- In --- fact .-. I ... have . never .-.. seen .. such ...- a . thing! ...

Re:Ha! Suckers! (1)

wgoodman (1109297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436328)

There are easier codes now adays, what with the advent of the intertubes and input devices that allow more than a binary entry method. Pretty sure he's still dead. (but i did get a chuckle)

Re:Ha! Suckers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436386)

samuel
morse
lives

ROFL

Re:Ha! Suckers! (1)

irenaeous (898337) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436774)

My ... printer .- never -- prints ..- such . silly .-.. codes; -- In --- fact .-. I ... have . never .-.. seen .. such ...- a . thing! ...

Cute.

The embedded morse Code says:

SAMUEL MORSE LIVES

Confusing the code (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436128)

I wonder what would happen if you printed a blank sheet of paper, would the dots come out, or if you wanted to confuse the code, maybe print the same item twice on two different printers... Hmmmm, I wonder if that would work.

Re:Confusing the code (3, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436228)

Even worse, what if you took a printer that doesn't print the codes, and got someone else's printer code, and printed that on the page?
Good way to frame someone?

"This must have come from your printer, the serial number is embedded in the page"

regardless... (3, Interesting)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436134)

while they do not violate any laws, secret printer tracking dot codes may violate the human right to privacy guaranteed by the EU's Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Nevertheless, in the UK it's probable that such codes will become not only permissible, but compulsory. After all, how might terrorist propaganda be traced to its source otherwise?

I'd like to think the above paragraph is a joke. But it's not. Night is falling on the UK.

Re:regardless... (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436306)

At which point one of you guys ought to push it to the European Court of human rights. It has struck down bad laws in England (and other countries ) before and it can do so again. Violating the spirit of human rights is one thing, ignoring an actual judgment by the European court of human rights is quite another.

Re:regardless... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436704)

Violating the spirit of human rights is one thing, ignoring an actual judgment by the European court of human rights is quite another.

Yeah. You absolutely DO NOT want to get on the wrong side of the European Court of Human Rights. If they were upset enough they might write you a strongly worded letter. If you were foolish enough to ignore the strongly worded letter they might start to sulk or even hold their breath until they passed out. You wouldn't want them to sulk or pass out now would you? I didn't think so.

sorry what privacy? (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436194)

How is it a privacy invasion? People can figure out who sent that printed paper, so? If you hand wrote it they could figure it out too. Either way they have to have a comparision to identify you, ie. they have to suspect you run a test sheet and compare.

Re:sorry what privacy? (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436488)

That's jut the point of this thing. They don't have to compare anything. They just look at the code that identifies the printer. They then call up the manufacturer and say, "To whom is this printer registered?" And then they know. Simple as that. They don't have to suspect you. Your printer was the source of this propaganda, whether or not you were the one using it.

Privacy is over-rated. (-1, Troll)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436218)

If this is a violation of the right to privacy, than guess what. I guess so are license plates. Privacy is fine, but when it comes to the point where it allows folks to do crimes against your person or property in the name of an overdeveloped idea of privacy, it is taking it a bit too far. How would you feel if someone stated leaving threatening notes on your car, on your door and there was no way to catch them before they followed through? Now how would you feel if you got those threatening notes but they authorities were able to put a stop to them before you could come to harm? Would you really be concerned about codes if you weren't doing anything wrong? I wouldn't. I'd rather be safe.

Re:Privacy is over-rated. (4, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436426)

There are a couple of differences between license plates and this.

a)The license plates are clearly visible, while the printer code is intended to be unnoticeable by the user. I.e, most users don't even know they are being tracked.

b)When you drive your car you are using public infrastructure, such as the roads. In many countries there is no obligation to have license plates on a car you only use in a private space.

c) The license plate identifies one particular car, not [necessarily] the factory that made it. The printer code identifies the printer, not the paper it is on.

I'm sure there is more, but clearly the parent post is just another example that car analogies suck.

Re:Privacy is over-rated. (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436630)

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Not very hard to understand. If you are going to let your fear control you, please move away and stop supporting making my country worse.

Go read about the horrific things the intelligence community did during the Cold War even here in the US. Then tell me privacy is overrated when you make it to a government watch list for a "crime" that is only defined in secret laws.

Re:Privacy is over-rated. (2, Insightful)

atchius (1233330) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436676)

License plates allow you to be identified driving a registered vehicle in public. It's mere convenience that keeps us from wanting to unscrew them every time we drive onto private property (e.g., a parking lot or driveway). The government is saying, "You drive on our roads, you follow our rules". Fair enough, right? It's the government requirement of these laser printer codes that's an invasion of privacy. Maybe a fair (albeit insane) requirement would be that any documents posted in public be encoded with the dots. What's that quote by Ben Franklin or David Hume or Richard Jackson or somebody? "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Re:Privacy is over-rated. (2, Funny)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436870)

It's the government requirement of these laser printer codes that's an invasion of privacy.
Privacy isn't the only problem, it affects business and profits too. We were counterfeiting $20 bills and had to switch our whole operation over to engraved plates and old printing presses. Overhead has gone through the roof.

Now with Clinton and Obama talking about mandatory health insurance and unionization, we could be out of business next January.

I wish the government would just leave me alone and quit watching every move I make.

biZnat3h (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436222)

and was taken over commuitterbase and Legitimise doing SLING you can

EFF Code Cracking Guide (4, Informative)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436224)

The EFF has some handy dandy info on this very subject, http://w2.eff.org/Privacy/printers/docucolor/ [eff.org]

Re:EFF Code Cracking Guide (0)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436766)

It IS handy, but I checked those EFF pages earlier. The test sheets for one to test one's own color printer are redirecting to an EFF frontpage, and the files seem to be unavailable.

I was printing this story out (2, Funny)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436230)

but all I got was yellow dots

Re:I was printing this story out (1)

CortoMaltese (828267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436880)

but all I got was yellow dots
You might want to try switching back to IPv4, and shorter host and user names. Sometimes just enlarging the margins will do the job. Of course, YMMV. HTH.

Is this Slashdot.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436234)

Or is it "IDon'tBelieveInImaginaryProperty.org? Does this guy ever get a submission rejected?

Rather have safety than that degree of privacy. (0, Flamebait)

GarryFre (886347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436318)

If this breaks privacy laws than so do licence plates. How would you feel if you started finding threatening notes on your car and around your home and the perp could not be caught because of privacy laws and you suffered great harm? How would you feel if they caught the perp when that first note showed up? Freedom is fine, but not when it becomes freedom to harm others with impunity. I would rather not sacrifice my safety on the altar of privacy.

Re:Rather have safety than that degree of privacy. (2, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436412)

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin

Re:Rather have safety than that degree of privacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436456)

The difference here is that a license plate is plainly visible, while the markings on paper are nearly invisible and probably not documented in any user-manuals. The privacy is implied for your printed documents, not so much for your obviously-marked motor vehicle.

Threatening note, call in the cyber-squad! (1)

Comboman (895500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436908)

How would you feel if you started finding threatening notes on your car and around your home and the perp could not be caught because of privacy laws and you suffered great harm?

I'd feel that the police must be idiots if the only way they can think of to catch the perp is by using secret printer codes. It's a good thing people never use handwriting for threatening notes (or the letters cut out of magazines that always seem to be used for ransom notes on TV).

Nobody noticed... (4, Insightful)

Poodleboy (226682) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436352)

Doesn't anyone notice that the EU's "official statement" was released as a .DOC file? So, if I'm a citizen of the EU, I have to pay money to Microsoft to participate in my government?

What's worse is that we're so inured to this sort of thing, nobody even noticed!

Fenestrae delendae sunt.

Re:Nobody noticed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22436418)

Oh fuck off and go live in some cave ... after all you would have to pay money to someone anyway , even if they released this as using radio,tv,newspaper as a medium.

Re:Nobody noticed... (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436718)

Did you try calling them and asking for it on paper?

Well, then you'd have had to pay the damn phone company. And those teachers that taught you to read.

How about you mail them a letter? Then you have to pay them directly for access to it!

Re:Nobody noticed... (2, Informative)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436832)

So, if I'm a citizen of the EU, I have to pay money to Microsoft to participate in my government?
Naw, you can just look at it in Openoffice or whatever. Hell, even Microsoft has free Word viewers floating around. And if you really object that much to even touching a .doc, you can mail it to one of those fancy document-converters [labnol.org] and have it turned into a pdf...

Hate Microsoft (or the EU) all you want, but this is rather stupid as a reason.

Re:Nobody noticed... (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436922)

OpenOffice saves and loads DOC files just fine.

Re:Nobody noticed... (1)

ray-auch (454705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436994)


Why on earth would you have to pay money to Microsoft to read .doc ?

Microsoft themselves have free (as in no money) viewers available for download, and dozens of other packages (both free and not free, in either money or libre sense) will view .doc files.

If you don't want to install software, there are also dozens of online conversion services (some of which are free) that support .doc files as input.

Is your PC's BIOS free? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437014)

Doesn't anyone notice that the EU's "official statement" was released as a .DOC file? So, if I'm a citizen of the EU, I have to pay money to Microsoft to participate in my government?
Did you try running strings on it? What about wvWare? OpenOffice.org? Do you regularly complain that you have to pay money to your PC's BIOS developer, which is just as foreign as Microsoft?

Re:Nobody noticed... (1)

Agent.Nihilist (1228864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437078)

Of course There is no possible way that you may be able download a free document viewer that lets you read these types of files is there?
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=95E24C87-8732-48D5-8689-AB826E7B8FDF&displaylang=en [microsoft.com]
That would be unheard of.

No big deal (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22436360)

All of the documents produced in our office have a large brown ring stamped on them that can be traced back to the coffee mug of the engineer that produced them.

wait a second... (2, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22437108)

This is the same EU where there are cameras on every corner in the UK? The same EU where cameras track, record, and transmit license plate numbers to central servers nationwide in Germany? The same EU where you register where you live with the government? Where many personal records are available and shared by government offices?

And they are concerned whether printed paper contains a code that is not even tied to a person but merely a print engine? Don't make me laugh.
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