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Printer Privacy Your Rights Online

Secret Printer ID Codes May Be Illegal In the EU 229

Posted by kdawson
from the seeing-yellow dept.
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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Secret Printer ID Codes May Be Illegal In the EU

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  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:50PM (#22435732) Homepage Journal
    So to stay private, then, one should print sensitive documents on yellow paper?
    • Re:Simple enough fix (Score:5, Interesting)

      by corsec67 (627446) on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:58PM (#22435838) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by MagicBox (576175)
        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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SethJohnson (112166) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:28PM (#22436272) Homepage Journal
        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 (Score:5, Informative)

          by MrMacman2u (831102) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:47PM (#22436528) Journal
          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 (Score:5, Interesting)

            by sricetx (806767) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:38PM (#22437250)
            Well, couldn't the open source driver be modified to add additional random yellow dots, thereby obfuscating the dot code from the hardware?
            • by JonTurner (178845) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:55PM (#22437516) Journal
              Best suggestion yet.
              Yes, in theory adding random dots would introduce noise into the signal and potentially degrade it to the points it's no longer useful, but only if you can interfere with the pattern. Put another way, unless you know the location of the dot codes, to reach the level of noise necessary to obscure you'd have to cover the page; there would be so many random yellow dots so as to be perceptible.
          • Re:Simple enough fix (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Belial6 (794905) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:39PM (#22437262)
            The next question would be... Can you put a black or cyan cartridge in the yellow slot to make the dots show up bright and clear for easier identification? If so, it would make it easier to see what these printers do. Perticularly when yellow lines are drawn through the codes.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward
              The answer, probably not, I think his Minolta is the same engine as my Lexmark which detects which toner cartridge is in which slot and refuses to print if you swap them about, besides which, the black cartridge is physically a bit bigger. However, you could refill a yellow cartridge with black toner. I wouldn't recommend this unless you're going to buy a new yellow cartridge to replace it.
        • by spuke4000 (587845)
          Even if the dots are inserted at the hardware layer, if you have source for the driver couldn't you have it add more dots, in random locations? You wouldn't be able to tell which dots identified the printer and which were part of the random noise.
    • Re:Simple enough fix (Score:4, Informative)

      by pclminion (145572) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:14PM (#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.
      • Even B&W could have some slight embedded peculiarities invisible to the naked eye. A scaled steganographic identifier/pattern could be there, waiting for law enforcement to decode. So, I'd say, if you're worried about COLOR, then worry, too, about B&W...
    • by MoxFulder (159829) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:33PM (#22436356) Homepage
      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...
      • 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' :)
      • by Bandman (86149) <bandman@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:58PM (#22436708) Homepage
        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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by moosesocks (264553)
          I believe that Canon has explicitly stated that the feature has to be manually turned on, and that there is a non-trivial setup process to get it working. In other words, the privacy implications of the feature are essentially nonexistant.

          Watermarking technology for copyright-protection already exists. Canon is simply one of the first to be building it into their cameras.

          Given that image plagiarism is a legitimate problem for professional photographers, the feature does make a good bit of sense.
      • by Applekid (993327) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:43PM (#22437358)
        There has been some research done in this area. It's not really intentional, but the nature of the CCD sensors. When they're made, they have a target count on how many megapixels it has and not all of them (at least short of research labs) are functional.

        Sometimes you can see specifications like "12 Megapixels, 11.1 effective".

        These defects are scattered among the surface of the CCD and are statistically unique from one camera to another, even among the same model. While the photos often aren't saved in raw formats, I'd wager if they find a picture of something illegal and wanted to prove your camera took the picture, it'd be trivial to take some pictures with it and match the output files' flaws even with the JPEG encoding by using a control camera of the same shot.

        Like how they do ballistic analysis by finding a suspect's gun and fire off a few rounds and compare with rounds found at the scene of a crime.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MoxFulder (159829)

          These defects are scattered among the surface of the CCD and are statistically unique from one camera to another, even among the same model. While the photos often aren't saved in raw formats, I'd wager if they find a picture of something illegal and wanted to prove your camera took the picture, it'd be trivial to take some pictures with it and match the output files' flaws even with the JPEG encoding by using a control camera of the same shot.

          Like how they do ballistic analysis by finding a suspect's gun and fire off a few rounds and compare with rounds found at the scene of a crime.

          Hey Applekid, that's a really interesting point... the pattern of hot/cold pixels on an image sensor is almost certainly unique to that camera.

          That, however, is not so troubling to me. Tying a "weapon" to a "crime" after the fact is a pretty standard and legitimate technique. What I'm more troubled by is the idea that camera makers would *pre-emptively* record a unique fingerprint of each camera, *in case* it ever gets used to do something illegal, or just to snoop and follow a trail of photographs on th

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by bsims (895751)

            That, however, is not so troubling to me. Tying a "weapon" to a "crime" after the fact is a pretty standard and legitimate technique. What I'm more troubled by is the idea that camera makers would *pre-emptively* record a unique fingerprint of each camera, *in case* it ever gets used to do something illegal, or just to snoop and follow a trail of photographs on the web or elsewhere.

            And yet when laws were passed required doing exactly that to sell a legal product in California, it was lauded as a wonderful idea.

            But firearms don't count, I guess. I am glad in some ways that other's hobbies are now being treated with as much disdain as mine. Maybe in addition to the National Rifle Association we need the National Photography Association.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Stanistani (808333)
              Hey, I respect gun owners, but that's a spurious comparison.

              I can't pull out my Nikon and hold up a liquor store.

              Not unless the clerk is REALLY vain.
        • True, but isn't that defeated by application of a dark field mask (or at least crippled)?

          Dark field definition: Take a photo with lens cap on, then observe the image file of what should be black. One will see spots of colors in which the CCD triggers at defective locations. One can apply as a negative filter to all images proceeding the dark-field image so have better appropriate colors.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Or just steal your printers and supplies.
    • by vux984 (928602)
      Or better still, figure out where the yellow dots are being printed, and then add a whole lot more right where the code is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by arthurpaliden (939626)
      It is called a dot matrix printer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 15, 2008 @12:51PM (#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?
  • by wwphx (225607) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:01PM (#22435886) Homepage
    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.
    • by corsec67 (627446) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:02PM (#22435912) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ray-auch (454705)
        Or better still, offer to print someone else's tax return (or other document)...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by corsec67 (627446)
          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
    • Buy a used printer.

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

    • 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.
      • That is why I fill all of my warranty cards out with Karl Rove's name and address. (It is amazing the kind of information you can find just floating around out there on the net)
    • by MrMacman2u (831102) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:30PM (#22436314) Journal
      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 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by DrSkwid (118965) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:58PM (#22436696) Homepage Journal
        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.

      • by ntk (974) * on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:59PM (#22436716) Homepage
        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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by operagost (62405)

        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?
      • 1) plan to counterfeit money with a nice color printer
        2) steal one. Social engineering at a firm to get a copy of printer order. Or just plain pay somebody to give you a copy.
        3) watch the wrong guy land in prison and laugh all the way to your money laundering place of choice


        Alternatively : 1) plan to counterfeit money with a nice color printer
        2) Pay an underpaid tech to switch this off (if possible)

        3) watch the wrong guy land in prison and laugh all the way to your money laundering place of choice
      • Don't the high-end printers/copiers freak out when they recognized that you're trying to print currency, anyway?

      • Blue Light Special (Score:4, Informative)

        by AJWM (19027) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:26PM (#22437914) Homepage
        P.S. - If you can get some, print a color page on black paper (preferably semi-gloss), the dots stand out really well

        They stand out just fine on white paper under blue light, as one of the EFF pages [eff.org] illustrates.

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

        Then I guess you haven't encountered HP 4500 or HP 8500 series printers (maybe they don't need to be repaired as much?). One of the other EFF pages lists a number of other printer models that don't use yellow dots (which isn't to say that they don't use some other kind of tagging).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cicho (45472)
        "I'd like to know why this is such a big deal to individual people first off. "

        For the very same reasons it was a big deal (to some) and not such a big deal (to others) that the communist government here in Poland, up until late 1980s, had every single typewriter registered, with a typed page on file. I imagine the same went on in other countries of the Soviet bloc.

        You said yourself the dot patterns were not being used to fight crime, I guess that's your answer right there.

        I guess the rule of the thumb is s
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zippthorne (748122)
      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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:07PM (#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).
  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:07PM (#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..

    • by sconeu (64226) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:57PM (#22436680) Homepage Journal
      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.

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

          I agree. The "why" is because the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper" in the minds of our elected representatives^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hleaders for quite some time now.

    • 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.

      Well, the 4th Amendment does specifically cite "papers and effects" as things that can't be seized without a proper warrant. I don't know what would motivate that if not a right to privacy. Back then, "papers and effects" encompassed just about all forms of nonvolatile communication. Strict constructionists may point to the failure of the framers to explicitly cite electronic signals and magnetic storage, but in my experience that degree of literal-mindedness is usually a sign of idiocy or worse.

  • Tag badsummary. (Score:5, Informative)

    by CSMatt (1175471) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:09PM (#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.
    • 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. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ddrichardson (869910) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:43PM (#22436492) Homepage

        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.

        • 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

          That's true.. I just was trying to explain the laser printer/inkjet divide, not justify whether the tracking is reasonable. There is a legitimate anti-forgery concern, but that

    • 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. Unf
      • by Itninja (937614)

        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.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My ... printer .- never -- prints ..- such . silly .-.. codes; -- In --- fact .-. I ... have . never .-.. seen .. such ...- a . thing! ...
  • 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.
  • regardless... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by owlnation (858981) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:18PM (#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.
    • 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.
  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)
      It removes your ability to put up anonymous flyers and handbills.

      But I suppose you could silkscreen it after printing it.
      • Oh no, you can't do business without letting people know which business their dealing with. I can't see printer manufactures releasing that information to anyone that calls in, and I don't see where law enforcement being able to call up a printer manufacture and find out who registered a printer is a privacy infringement. Presumably something illegal has been done otherwise the police wouldn't be involved. It just aids in the investigation. In this day and age corps know enough to get a supeona before relea
        • by AJWM (19027)
          Presumably something illegal has been done otherwise the police wouldn't be involved.

          That's a mighty big presumption.

          It could be a jealous cop tracking down a note sent to his girlfriend.

          Or it could be some politician pushing willing cops to track down the source of some otherwise anonymous flyers opposing that politician or his policies.

          No doubt the telcos that are currently desperately seeking immunity from certain lawsuits just presumed something illegal was going on or the feds wouldn't be involved in a
          • Yes and that warrant/supeona should be presented to the company before they release info. The info existing isn't a problem in itself. With proper protections in place to make sure that it is a "legitimate request" I don't see what the problem is.
  • by milsoRgen (1016505) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:24PM (#22436224) Homepage
    The EFF has some handy dandy info on this very subject, http://w2.eff.org/Privacy/printers/docucolor/ [eff.org]
  • but all I got was yellow dots
  • Nobody noticed... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Poodleboy (226682) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:33PM (#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.
    • by Vegeta99 (219501)
      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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by teslar (706653)

      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.

    • by ray-auch (454705)

      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.

  • No big deal (Score:5, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday February 15, 2008 @01:34PM (#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... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nguy (1207026) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:29PM (#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.
  • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:33PM (#22437170) Homepage
    ...to prevent counterfeiting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EURion_constellation [wikipedia.org]
  • Wouldn't they be illegal in Canada too then? Maybe under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
  • I've been having an issue with my Dell A920 printer recently where it refuses to print yellow at all. Blues and Reds print fine, but yellows don't get printed. No error message or anything, it just doesn't print. So my printer may well be trying to print the yellow dots, but is failing without knowing it.

    I am now wondering if this is a result of the yellow print head getting worn out by all the excess yellow printing in the past. Oh well. I mostly only print in black and white anyway. The printer pr
  • ..Convention on fundamental human rights and freedoms. If you don't remember what these are.. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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